A Renaissance Tale of Human Hubris On the Interrelationship of Setting, Theme and Characters in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s ‘Rappaccini’s Daughter ” Contents Introduction… 1 Argumentation… 21. The Fantastic Elements of the Setting…
21. 1. The Preface as a Foretaste… 2 1.
2. The Opening Phrase… 3 1. 3. Rappaccini’s Garden… 31.
3. a. The Garden of Eden and the Fairytale Garden… 3 1. 3.
b. Rappaccini’s Garden as a Reflection of his Hubris… 52. The Renaissance as Temporal Setting…
72. 1. Direct Hints to the Renaissance… 7 2. 2. The Renaissance as an Age of Radical Changes…
8 2. 3. Italy as Spatial Setting… 83. Allusions to the Renaisance by Means of the Characters…
103. 1. Beatrice and the Rebirth of the Antiquity… 103. 1. a.
Vertumnus… 10 3. 1. b. The Noble Savage… 10 3.
2. Rappaccini as the Boundless Scientist… 123. 2. a.
Rappaccini as a Stereotypical Villain… 12 3. 2. b. The Scientist in League with the Devil…
12. Faust… 14. Frankenstein… 15.
Good Deeds… 16. The Artificial Human… 17 Rappaccini Has to Fail…
18 Conclusion… 20 Bibliography Regard his hellish fall, Whose fortune may exhort the wise Only to wonder at unlawful things: Whose deepness doth entice such forward wits, To practice more than heavenly power permits. Christopher Marlowe, The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus Introduction ‘Rappaccini’s Daughter’ by Nathaniel Hawthorne was first published as ‘Writings of Aub’e pine’ in United States Magazine and Democratic Review in 18441 and was republished as ‘Rappaccini’s Daughter’ in Mosses from an old Manse in 1846. Its subject is the fabulous story of the unhappy love between Giovanni Guasconti and ‘Rappaccini’s daughter,’ the beautiful Beatrice 2. Her father, a professor of medicine, used her in an experiment of his.
... values, joined with the unique Italian setting was responsible for the Renaissance. At the same time it shatters ... the birth of cultural and intellectual rebirth Renaissance. The Renaissance started in the twelfth century in the ... and XVth centuries. (New York: Garden City, 1927) 1 brought the Renaissance rebirth, which in great deal determined ... XIVth and XVth centuries. New York: Garden City, 1927.. ...
As a result she’s utterly poisonous and confined to her father’s garden, a fantastic place where strange plants of his creation grow. Giovanni is used by Pietro Baglioni, Rappaccini’s opponent, in the scientists’ warfare and involuntarily helps Beatrice to kill herself as he tries to heal her. The theme of this tale is human hubris, the conflict between man’s thirst for knowledge and power on the one hand and God’s commandments as well as human responsibility for the creation on the other hand. I will examine the interrelationship between this theme and the story’s setting which on the one hand contains fantastic elements of the fairytale and the legend and on the other hand can be clearly localized in renaissance Italy.
I will look into how Hawthorne uses this setting to support the message of his tale. In this context one character deserves closer attention – Giacomo Rappaccini, in the form of whom the points of intersection between the setting and the theme take shape. Argumentation 1. The Fantastic Elements of the Setting By means of the preface and the opening phrase the reader is put in the right mood for a wondrous story that contains typical, fantastic elements of the fairytale. These elements point to the theme of the tale in various respects. 1.
1. The Preface as a foretaste In the preface to the story, Hawthorne pretends that the tale of ‘Rappaccini’s Daughter’ is the work of a certain M. de l’Aub’e pine, who is in fact none other than Hawthorne himself – Aub’e pine is the French word for ‘hawthorn’. Another hint of the correspondence of both are the titles of Aub’e pine’s works.
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They correspond to the titles of the other stories included in Mosses from an old Manse. Apart from that they point to the ‘fantastic imagery’3 which awaits the reader in the ‘ensuing tale’ (93) of ‘Rappaccini’s Daughter’ by referring directly to some of its main fantastic motives. ‘Le nouveau P’ere Adam et la nouvelle M’ere Eve’4 (92) anticipates Giovanni’s association of Rappaccini with Adam (96) and the shaping of the spatial setting of Rappaccini’s garden on the model of the Garden of Eden. This is a first hint to the story’s theme of human hubris, personified by Giacomo Rappaccini. He is characterized by the same pride and ambition that caused the Fall of humanity in the Garden of Eden. ‘Le Cute du Feu’5, a work about ‘the old Persian Ghebers’ (92), refers to Rappaccini and his strange, alchemic research – Gheber was an Arabian alchemist of the 8 th century.
‘Beatrice; ou la Belle Empoisonneuse’ (93), the ‘original’ title of the tale of ‘Rappaccini’s Daughter,’ anticipates Beatrice’s fantastic as well as terrible secret. The other titles don’t refer directly to ‘Rappaccini’s Daughter’ but partly point to the ‘fantastic imagery’ by mentioning wondrous things like a celestial journey by train (‘Le Voyage C’e leste ‘a Chemin de Fer’6 (92) ) or a serpent in the stomach (‘ (… ) le Serpent ‘a l”7 (92) ).
What else could the reader expect from an author of such fantastic titles if not another fantastic story, a story that is most probably going to be some kind of a fairytale? 1.
2. The Opening Phrase In the initial sentence of the actual story the time is given by means of the phrase ‘very long ago’ (93), which strongly resembles the well-known phrase ‘once upon a time there was… .’ , the classic beginning of a fairytale. Like in a fairytale, this phrase is used here to transport the reader into a remote time while leaving him in the dark about the exact time of the happenings. At the same time it indicates the temporal distance between the narrator and the happenings related by him, a distance that unavoidably leads to a certain indistinctness in which the outlines of fact and fiction become blurred: things that are said to have happened in a dim and distant past can hardly be proved or, which is more important here, proved wrong – anything might have happened in such a remote time. The narrator can relate the weirdest things without being guilty of deceiving the reader – the classic beginning indicates that the following story will be a fairytale with fantastic content rather than a report of facts.
... and Eve. These two first humans were in the Garden of Eden and God had clearly told them “You shall not ... receives in the real world, she relies on her fairytale stories not to just comfort her but to let he ... God created deceived Eve to eat an apple from the Garden of Eve. At the end she ate this apple ... eat of every tree of the garden? ” So they obeyed ...
In these surroundings the most fantastic happenings are not improbable any more, here the ‘old fable’ of a girl fed on poison 8 can eventually ‘become a truth’ (118).
1. 3. Rappaccini’s Garden 1. 3. a.
The Garden of Eden and the Fairytale Garden Corresponding to this fantastic air, Rappaccini’s garden, to which most of the action is restricted, is a most unreal place. And, as it were, another ‘old fable’ comes true here – the garden is modelled on the biblical Garden of Eden. Like in Eden, where ‘in the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil’9, the magnificent shrub is in the centre of Rappaccini’s garden, accompanied by a fountain and a pool (94).
This allusion to Eden and the Fall is outspoken when Giovanni compares the garden to ‘the Eden of the present world’ (96) and Rappaccini to Adam, a motive that has already been referred to in the preface to the story (92).
Man’s longing for the lost Paradise manifests itself in the shaping of the magic gardens of the classic fairytale where plants grow that are possessed of great vitality and healing powers as well as transforming powers 10 and thus point to the fantastic plants in Eden that for the most part are ‘good for food’11 but in two cases have something more to offer. Who eats from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil ‘will be like God’12 and who eats of the fruits of the tree of life will even ‘live forever’13.
Correspondingly, the plants in the professor’s garden resemble those in a classic, paradisiacal fairytale garden which are usually lush in growth (‘gigantic leaves’ (95), ‘luxuriant vegetation’ (98) ), of exotic build (‘strange plants’ (101) ), gloriously colourful (‘flowers gorgeously magnificent’ (95) ) and of a tempting fragrance (‘oppressive exhalations seemed to proceed from the plants’ (98) ) 14. These are magic plants that have healing powers (Rappaccini ‘distil’s these plants into medicines that are as potent as a charm’ (94) ) as well as transforming powers (By means of the ‘breath’ (123) of the magnificent shrub, Beatrice was transformed (or ‘enchanted’) into a poisonous being) 15. After all, the garden is the epitome of the enchanted place in fairy stories 16. The fairytale gardens resemble the Garden of Eden in yet another regard. They are well-ordered places which are excluded from their often chaotic environs by means of impenetrable obstacles 17. This separation 18 points to the Garden of Eden in so far as Eden was a harmless place distinguished from its surroundings by the tamed nature there 19.
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It was a secure spot where the Creator placed the still innocent Adam and Eve. Correspondingly, Rappaccini’s garden is accessible only via one ‘private entrance’ (108) followed by ‘several obscure passages’ (109) that lead to the ‘hidden entrance’ over which ‘the entanglement of a shrub (… ) wreathed its tendrils’ (109) 20. 1. 3. b.
Rappaccini’s Garden as a Reflection of his Hubris In contrast to the biblical Eden, however, Rappaccini’s garden is in no way a harmless place. It is not at all in accordance with the fenced-in garden of Christian iconography, where it symbolizes virginity, purity and innocence 21. At first Giovanni considers Rappaccini’s garden to be a ‘spot of lovely and luxuriant vegetation’ (98), a place of happiness and harmony like the gardens of the fairytale 22 with plants that look ‘gorgeously magnificent’ (95).
However, after Giovanni has entered the garden and looked more carefully, the plants prove to be ‘fierce,’ ‘monstrous’ as well as ‘questionable and ominous’ (110).
They are ‘glowing with only an evil mockery of beauty’ (110) and are not at all like the trees in the Garden of Eden that ‘were pleasing to the eye and good for food’23. It turns out to be a ‘fatal garden’ (125) that rather resembles the typical garden of the legend 24, which is usually a frightening, haunted place full of danger.
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The plants seem to be so ‘unnatural’ (110) because they are the product of ‘adultery’ (110), a term used by Jesus figuratively of unfaithfulness to God 25. These plants were created by a man who is unfaithful to God in so far as he is not content only to look into the ‘inmost nature’ (96) of Creation and ‘only to wonder at unlawful things’26 – which would, to a certain extent, still be legitimate. This is not enough, Rappaccini wants to be a creator, a god himself – the plants in his garden are ‘no longer of God’s making, but the monstrous offspring of man’s depraved fancy’ (110).
That means, in his garden the principle that ‘through [God] all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made’27 is done away with. On the contrary: ‘This garden is [Rappaccini’s] world’ (111).
As Giovanni watches Rappaccini in his garden, he is amazed at the scientist’s anxious and overcautious demeanour – had not ‘cultivating a garden, that most simple and innocent of human toils (…
) been alike the joy and labor of the un fallen parents of the race’ (96)? Yes, ‘the LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it’28. But God also ‘commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil [which is in the middle of the Garden of Eden], for when you eat of it you will surely die’29. Thus God gave man a rule that lays down limits for him: God is the middle of the garden – a place that he reserves to himself and which he forbids man to take. While God is the creator, the middle and measure of all things, man is only creation. However, as man’s curiosity is too boundless he cannot keep to God’s rule. Like the first humans, Rappaccini feels restricted and is discontent with his limits.
He longs to be more than he can be within these bounds and finally succumbs to the lure of the forbidden fruit, which promises to give him wisdom 30 and insights into the ‘creative essence’ (96) of things and thus to widen his limits. By creating a garden that resembles the Garden of Eden Rappaccini tries to compensate for the fact that mankind has been denied access to Paradise since the Fall of Man – he revolts against this divine decision, a rebellion that essentially is sinful hubris as it calls God’s authority into question. We have seen that the plants in the Garden of Eden ‘were pleasing to the eye and good for food’31 while Rappaccini’s garden is an ‘Eden of poisonous flowers’ (115).
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These different varieties of plants reflect the completely different characters of their creators: ‘God is love’32 while Rappaccini has no ‘warmth of heart’ (95).
Baglioni describes Rappaccini as ‘a man fearfully acquainted with the secrets of Nature,’ (123) his look is ‘a look as deep as Nature itself’ (107).
He might be such a wise man but he is not acquainted with nature’s ‘warmth of love’ (107), which is the reason why he has to fail in the end: ‘if I (…
) have not love, I am nothing’33. So the fantastic spatial setting of the garden resembles the place where the Fall of Man had occurred. The allusions to this biblical parable by means of the spatial setting indicate that the parable repeats itself here. Rappaccini is ‘the Adam’ ‘of the present world’ (96), he is characterized by the same presumptuousness and excessive thirst for knowledge, expressed by the plants of his own creation, that caused the Fall of humanity in the Garden of Eden. 2. The Renaissance as Temporal Setting In contrast to the initial indistinctness caused by the opening phrase ‘very long ago’ and despite all the fantastic imagery we are given some clear hints as to the exact temporal setting of the story 34.
Although there are no concrete dates given, we are given enough clues that make it possible to locate the time of the action in the early modern era, the renaissance. In addition to several rather open hints there are plenty of allusions that don’t disclose themselves to us at first glance. 2. 1.
Direct Hints to the Renaissance The story contains a number of allusions to individuals of the Italian renaissance as well as innovations of that time. The first of these more or less open hints is Giovanni’s estimation that Rappaccini’s garden could be ‘one of those botanic gardens which were of earlier date in Padua than elsewhere’ (94) – the Paduan botanic garden, the world’s first garden of medicinal herbs, was in fact laid out in 154535. By referring to ‘certain black-letter tracts (… ), preserved in the medical department of the University of Padua’ (100), the narrator gives us a more obvious hint that points to the early modern age. The term ‘black-letter’ denotes a heavy type face used by the early printers.
These early prints are called incunabula – of which the Paduan University library actually owns a collection 36 – and originate from before 1500. Furthermore, several famous personalities of the age are mentioned: Benvenuto Cellini (119), an Italian artist in gold and silver who lived from 1500 to 1571 and the B orgias (119), a noble Italian family influential in the papacy and Italian politics during the 15 th and 16 th century 37. According to these hints, the events of the story should take place sometime in the 16 th century. 2.
2. The Renaissance as an Age of Radical Changes The renaissance was an age characterized by radical changes in all fields of life. In the 15 th and especially the 16 th century, which has been called the border century between the Middle Ages and the modern age 38, significant advances in medicine and other fields of research were made. Scientists like Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543), Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) and Johannes Kepler (1571-1630), who established the heliocentric system, caused considerable changes in the field of science and altered man’s conception of the world, as did expeditions and discoveries outside of Europe, especially that of the ‘new world’, as well as the religious unrest caused by the reformation. The epoch was also marked by lasting structural changes in society 39. In the following sections I should like to examine the relationship between these features of the age on the one hand and the setting in Italy, the theme, as well as the character of Rappaccini on the other hand.
2. 3. Italy as Spatial Setting In contrast to the exotic and fantastic air connoted by the setting in the paradisiac garden, the spatial setting also has, like the temporal setting, a very authentic aspect – by referring to typical details of the country and the city, it is given a coherent appearance. First of all, the characters are given authentic sounding Italian names. Dante, the Italian poet, is referred to in the very beginning of the story (93); incidentally, he had temporarily lived in Padua 40, the place where the story is set. Azzolino da Romano, a local tyrant who ‘had been pictured by Dante as a partaker of (…
) his inferno’ (93) 41 is mentioned as well as the local botanic gardens and the Paduan university. It is no accident that the tale is set in Italy – the renaissance, used as the story’s temporal setting, originated here in the 14 th century 42. Padua played an important part in that age in so far as some of the most important, revolutionary scientific minds of the time worked there. In 1501 Nicolaus Copernicus began his study of medicine there 43, from 1592 to 1610 Galileo Galilei, who developed Copernicus’ heliocentric system and based his research on exact measuring rather than on the old metaphysics, held the chair of mathematics 44 (cf. page 8).
These scientists embody, as it were, the renaissance as an age of radical changes. Padua enjoyed a reputation as a major seat of learning – in fact, many English students of Shakespeare’s day attended the university at Padua 45. In the 16 th century new institutes and facilities were established at the local university to support scientific research. These new facilities included a clinical school, the world’s first garden of medicinal herbs, which is mentioned in the story, as well as the holding of lectures directly at the sick-beds. In this respect the Paduan school had been a singular institution in Europe until the 17 th century 46. Rappaccini, the overreaching scientist is thus a child not only of his times but also of his local surroundings that were marked by an atmosphere of innovation and change and by a newly attained, relative scientific freedom.
3. Allusions to the Renaissance by Means of the Characters 3. 1. Beatrice and the Rebirth of the Antiquity The renaissance, which is French for ‘rebirth’, was an epoch characterized by a reawakening interest in the art and culture of the ancient world of Greece and Rome 47.
In Hawthorne’s tale this renewed significance of the antiquity is expressed by several allusions to ancient myths and by the circumstance that these myths partly come true in the fictional world of the story. 3. 1. a.
Vertumnus statue of Vertumnus, the Roman god of gardens and the changing seasons, is part of the spatial setting of the garden. Although it is already ‘quite veiled’ (95), it is still relevant in so far as parts of the ancient myth of Vertumnus and Pomona (as told by Ovid in the 14 th book of his Metamorphoses) repeat themselves here. Vertumnus fell in love with Pomona. She is a Hamadryad, a tree nymph believed to live and die with a certain tree which is a hint of her strange secret, the ‘analogy between the beautiful girl and the (… ) shrub’ (102).
In Ovid it says that never before there was a Hamadryad who was more eager in tilling the gardens 48- which strongly reminds of Beatrice’s devoted gardening.
Like Beatrice, Pomona is the woman of the local boys’ dreams. And in both cases nobody but one succeeds in getting in contact with her – here it is Giovanni, there it is Vertumnus. 3. 1. b. The Noble Savage Because of her innocent, ‘unsophisticated’ (116) and ‘half childish’ (104) demeanour Beatrice is said to resemble ‘the maiden of a lonely island’ (112) while Giovanni is like ‘a voyager from the civilized world’ (112).
This is an allusion to the ancient Greek myth of noble, uncivilized savages living on blissful islands. The antiquity imagined these savage peoples, untouched by culture and civilization, as the embodiment of a golden age, a better age before our time 49. This idea of a blissful island, a place cut off from the rest of the world, is closely related to the idea of the harmless, fenced-in Garden of Eden. Both places are separated off from any bad outside influences and are inhabited by uncivilized, innocent humans.
As I have pointed out before, the setting of Rapaccini’s Garden is modelled on Eden. Beatrice, the inhabitant of this paradisiac place, is as innocent as the first humans were – she is described as ‘maiden like’ (113), her purity is symbolized by ‘the pure whiteness of her image’ (120) and her name points to Dante’s Beatrice who in his Divine Comedy functions as a personification of theology – and as uncivilized as a noble savage from a blissful island (cf. a ‘lack of familiarity with modes and forms’ (113) on her part).
The relationship of both places, the Garden and the island, is clearly recognizable in the medieval Christian legend of St. Brendan’s voyage to a paradisiac island resembling the Garden of Eden. This legend became enormously popular in the renaissance and triggered off several expeditions to the Atlantic 50 in order to find that isle.
This search for an island that is, like Eden before the Fall, inhabited by innocent and uncivilized men constitutes an impressive piece of evidence of man’s desperate longing to get back to paradise. It calls to mind Rappaccini’s attempt at creating his own Eden (cf. page 6 f. ).
To the renaissance, an epoch that did not only endeavour to intellectually regain the ancient world but also longed for a rebirth of mankind, the discovery of America and its uncivilized natives in 1492 seemed like a confirmation of these ancient ideas 51.
Ameri go Vespucci, for example, compared the newly discovered territories to the blissful islands of the ancient myth in his Quattuor Navigation es of 150752. The remarks on Beatrice’s character call to mind the early reports from the new world about the naivety, gentleness and reticence of the natives 53 – she is described as ‘unreserved’ (115), ‘simple and kind’ (111).
Beatrice is on the one hand an embodiment of the turning of the renaissance to the antiquity. On the other hand she embodies the change of man’s conception of the world made necessary by the discovery of the new world.
She also provokes the same contradictory reactions as did the discovery of the American Natives who were both transfigured as noble savages and despised as pagans. Correspondingly, Beatrice is idolized by Giovanni as ‘a simple, natural, most affectionate, and guileless creature’ (120) while Baglioni sees her as a poisonous, ‘wretched girl’ (120) who is her father’s mere tool. 3. 2.
Rappaccini as the Boundless Scientist Rappaccini is, as regards his direct involvement in the action of the story, a minor character who only very rarely appears on the scene. All the more his appearance and actions are described and judged from the points of view of the other characters. His creation, the garden, also speaks for him as I have already pointed out at length (cf. page 5 f. ).
Another means of characterizing Rappaccini are the numerous allusions to well-known literary motives especially of the fairytale and the legend that are linked to his person.
He is shaped on the model of several literary predecessors and these allusions make it easier for the reader to judge Rappaccini. 3. 2. a. Rappaccini as a Stereotypical Villain When Rappaccini eventually appears on the scene in person, we are given a very detailed description of his outward appearance via Giovanni. Rappaccini is introduced as a rather ugly figure, a ‘tall, emaciated, sallow, and sickly-looking man’ (95) and again as ‘sickly and thought-worn’ (98).
According to the traditional clich’e that outward appearance and heart correspond with each other 54, Rappaccini possesses the stereotypical features of the classic villain – he’s even dressed in black (95, 106), a colour that has always been used to denote evil, falsehood and error 55 and which among humans is believed to be an indication of malice and nastiness 56. His ‘shattered’ (97) health and ‘infirm voice of a person affected with inward disease’ (96) point to a corresponding moral corruptness. 3. 2. b.
The Scientist in League with the Devil The radical changes that people had to cope with in the early modern age (cf. page 8) involved a considerable amount of unsureness and mistrust. The general public as well as the legend tended to attribute exceptional success and outstanding achievements of a man that could not be explained rationally, to a certain demonic or devilish influence 57. Particularly suspicious were those men who, like Rappaccini, devoted themselves to the natural sciences and knew about things that seemed sinister to the average, uneducated contemporary 58 or that overthrew traditional doctrines. The scientist as a representative of the modern man who slowly but surely developed was often enough prejudged as dubious and antichristian. Representatives of the new thinking like Kopernikus or Galilei (cf.
page 9) were suspected of being in league with the devil. Just the human thirst for knowledge was suspicious. Correspondingly, the subject of the man in league with the devil is more and more often used in literature towards the end of the Middle Ages 59. Baglioni takes this position of the traditionalist who refuses to accept any changes in the ‘divine art of medicine’ (99).
To him Rappaccini, a representative of the innovative and progressive Paduan School (cf. page 9) who puts up his own theories (100) instead of just taking on ‘the good old rules of the medical profession’ (120), necessarily has to seem like a heretic.
What he holds against Rappaccini, whom he calls ‘a vile empiric’ (120), is that ‘he cares infinitely more for science than for mankind’ (99).
He even thinks that Rappaccini has, like the devil, the power to seize his victim’s souls. He considers Giovanni to be the ‘material of some new experiment’ (119) of Rappaccini – perhaps the result of this experiment ‘is to be death; perhaps a fate more awful still’ (119).
And what else could be worse than death, besides eternal damnation, but to loose one’s soul to the devil? The dispute amongst the two scholars is a reflection of the clash of the late Middle Ages, represented by Baglioni, and the early modern age, embodied by Rappaccini. Typically enough, the story is set in the 16 th century, which has been called the border century between the Middle Ages and the modern age 60. The unambiguous characterization by means of Rappaccini’s exterior features as seen by Giovanni is supported by Baglioni’s judgment of Rappaccini.
In this simplified moral continuum that allows only bla ck and white values 61, Baglioni, who incessantly warns Giovanni of his opponent Rappaccini, necessarily has to appear as the good guy. By drawing this apparently obvious conclusion, however, the reader is on the completely wrong track as Baglioni turns out to be not one iota better than the evil Rappaccini 62… Faust have pointed out that Rappaccini is modelled on the typical overreaching scientist of the renaissance who often enough was believed to be in league with the devil. The literary archetype of this kind of scientist is Faust, a character and motive that – how could it be otherwise? – originated in the 16 th century 63.
The historical Johann Faust was a German doctor and alchemist who lived from 1480 to 1540 and soon after his death found his way into literature and popular myth. The story made its entry into the English-speaking world as The History of the Damnable Life and Deserved Death of Doctor John Faustus immediately after the publication of the popular German book Historia von D. Johann F austen. It shortly after became the immediate source of Marlowe’s play The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus (1588 or 1589) 64 which Hawthorne must have known. Hawthorne’s tale of Rappaccini’s Daughter was published at a time when the story of Faust was a quite popular literary subject 65. The second part of Goethe’s Faust was published in 183266, just 12 years before the first publication of Rappaccini’s Daughter in 1844.
In Goethe’s work, which Hawthorne certainly was well acquainted with, the long history of literary adaptations of the motive reached its climax 67. We can assume that Hawthorne consciously shaped Rappaccini on the model of Faust who, like Rappaccini, was a reckless researcher typical of the 16 th century, the age of renaissance and humanism. Rappaccini is, like Faust, a hero who passionately seeks power: ‘it seemed as if [Rappaccini] was looking into [the plants’] inmost nature, (… ) their creative essence’ (p. 96).
This is reminiscent of Faust’s words: Dass ich, was die Welt Im Inn ersten “alt, S chau alle Wirkenskraft und Same…
68 Goethe, Faust I. , 382-384. Both seek the power that comes from knowledge, no matter at what cost. They are overreacher’s, striving beyond the bounds of human capacity – it’s not enough, as Marlowe’s Faustus puts it, to be ‘but Faustus, and a man’69. They are not content ‘only to wonder at unlawful things’ but ‘practice more than heavenly power permits’70 and aspire to be ‘on earth as Jove is in the sky, Lord and commander of these elements’71. As we have seen before, Rappaccini’s offence against God’s laws is already alluded to by means of the spatial setting of his Garden (cf.
page 5 f. ).
His blasphemous offence is that like Goethe’s Faust, who creates a Homunculus, he becomes a creator in his own right 72… Frankenstein Rappaccini is reminiscent of still another notorious scientist and creator of 19 th century literature: of Victor Frankenstein. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was published in 1818, 26 years before Rappaccini’s Daughter, and was instantly successful. Hawthorne, who was born in 1804, might have read it as a teenager – in any case, he was influenced by this work as regards the shaping of the characters as well as the theme of Rappaccini’s Daughter 73.
Frankenstein’s goal was to investigate the causes of things, too. To him ‘the world was (… ) a secret which I desired to divine. Curiosity, earnest re-search to learn the hidden laws of nature (…
) are among the earliest sensations I can remember’74. He wants to ‘pioneer a new way, explore unknown powers, and unfold to the world the deepest mysteries of creation’75. This thirst for knowledge corresponds to Rappaccini’s investigations into the ‘inmost nature’ and ‘creative essence’ (96) of his plants. Like Rappaccini, who has ‘produced new varieties of poison’ independent from ‘Nature’ (100), Frankenstein eventually becomes a creator in his own right as well… Good Deeds As I’ve pointed out before, Rappaccini hardly ever acts personally in the tale but is rather perceived and talked about by the other characters. It’s Dame Lisabetta, the old gossip, through whom Giovanni and the reader first hear about Rappaccini.
Lisabetta, a minor character, is introduced as a stereotypical gossipy but good-natured and religious old woman. She garnishes each of her remarks with a call on heaven (‘Holy Virgin,’ (93) ‘For the love of heaven,’ (93) ‘Heaven forbid’ (94); moreover, she commends ‘the young man to the protection of the saints’ (94) ).
Because of this devoutness she appears to be honest and reliable. Lisabetta passes on some publicly fostered rumours about Giacomo Rappaccini: ‘It is said that he distil’s (… ) plants into medicines that are as potent as a charm’ (94).
Though he is such a powerful wizard in her and thus in the public opinion, she doesn’t picture Rappaccini as a negative character.
He’s a ‘famous doctor, who, I warrant him, has been heard of as far as Naples’ (p. 94).
This fame is a point in his favour and Lisabetta seems to be quite proud to have such a celebrity in her neighbourhood. Even Baglioni has to admit that his rival ‘now and then (… ) has effected, or seemed to effect, a marvellous cure’ (100).
This corresponds to the fact that in the Christian tradition men in league with the devil frequently do good and useful works 76.
For example Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus has, like his literary successor professor Rappaccini, effected some cures: Are not thy bills hung up as monuments, Whereby whole cities have escaped the plague, And thousand desperate maladies been eased? Yet art thou still but Faustus, and a man. Marlowe, The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus, Scene 1, 20-23. The same goes for Goethe’s Faust: ALTER BAUER. Hat Ihr es doch mit uns An b”open Tagen gut! Goethe, Faust I. , Vor dem Tor, 995-996. ALLE.
Gesundheit dem be ” arten Mann, Dass er noch lange helen kann! Goethe, Faust I. , Vor dem Tor, 1007-1008. Correspondingly it was Frankenstein’s original intention to be a benefactor of mankind: What glory would attend the discovery if I could banish disease from the human frame and render man invulnerable to any but a violent death! 77. The Artificial Human The stories of the creators Faust, Frankenstein and their successor Rappaccini contain the well-known literary motif of the artificial human, an expression of man’s creative and inventive urge.
While emulating the works of the Creator was considered to be sinful in the Middle Ages, Paracelsus (1494-1541) was able to boast about being able to create a human being in the early modern age, the renaissance. It is thus no accident that Goethe lets Faust, a 16 th century contemporary of Paracelsus, become the creator of the test-tube Homunculus 78. Shelley’s Frankenstein points to the renaissance in so far as Frankenstein ‘chanced to find a volume of the works of Cornelius Agrippa’ (1486-1535) and also one of Paracelsus 79, the reading of which spurs on his ‘fervent longing to penetrate the secrets of nature’80 and eventually to become a creator himself. Rappaccini has to be seen in this tradition as well.
He might not have created an artificial human but nonetheless created artificial living things, a new kind of plants, by means of which he manipulated his daughter Beatrice. As a result she possesses the same contradictory qualities as the monster created by Frankenstein: ‘Once I falsely hoped to meet with beings who, pardoning my outward form, would love me for the excellent qualities which I was capable of unfolding’81. On the one hand there’s her pure and innocent soul and on the other hand her empoison ed body. Both the monster and Beatrice are completely misunderstood by those who get in contact with them 82.
Rappaccini Has to Fail An essential part of the motif of the artificial being is that there’s the danger that the creation could overpower its creator. Like Frankenstein, Rappaccini has eventually lost control of his creation: the plants in his garden ‘would wreak upon him some terrible fatality,’ ‘should he allow them one moment of license’ (96) – there is a suggestion of the words of Frankenstein’s monster here: ‘You are my creator, but I am your master; Obey!’ 83 As it were, the ‘new varieties of poison’ (100) of his own creation have destroyed him physically, which is a typical element of this motif. Both Rappaccini and Frankenstein are marked in the same way by their scientific endeavours. Frankenstein says about himself: ‘My cheek had grown pale with study, and my person had become emaciated with confinement.’ 84 This calls to mind Rappaccini’s ’emaciated, sallow and sickly-looking’ (63) appearance. By equipping his daughter with poison, Rappaccini attempted to make a wonder weapon of her ‘against which no power nor strength could avail an enemy – (… ) able to quell the mightiest with a breath’ (127).
He wanted the ‘old fable [to] become a truth’ (118), according to which there once were girls who were fed on poison from birth and who subsequently became poisonous themselves. They were used by rulers as weapons against their enemies 85 because touching them was fatal. However, Rappaccini fails to achieve this aim. Beatrice didn’t quell any mighty enemy but only a small reptile (102), a beautiful insect (103) and a beautiful bouquet (104).
Apart from that she involuntarily lured and poisoned the weak-willed Giovanni who in turn kills a harmless spider with his poisoned breath. He considers this spider to be a ‘deadly insect’ (122) – this widespread old wives’ tale about spiders emphasizes the ridiculousness of Rappaccini’s supposed ‘triumph’ (127).
In the end he’s flabbergasted as he has to realize that he doesn’t even have power over his daughter. Neither has he any power over her soul as she doesn’t want his ‘marvellous gifts’ and ‘would fain have been loved, not feared’ (127).
Nor has he any power over her body – by means of her suicide she ultimately escapes his influence. Like most stories about the creation of artificial life 86, the tale of Rappaccini’s Daughter comes to a bad end for both the creator, who is physically destroyed by his creation, as well as his creation, which destroys itself. By the numerous allusions to the other overreacher’s of literature and legend, the first humans, Faust and Frankenstein, the reader can guess how the story is going to end – all his predecessors had failed, and so will he. Rappaccini is not acquainted with nature’s ‘warmth of love’ (107), which is the reason why his interest in his subjects is ‘merely a speculative, not a human, interest’ (107).
Rappaccini ‘cares infinitely more for science than for mankind’ (99) and ‘would sacrifice human life (… ) for the sake of adding so much as a grain of mustard seed to the great heap of his accumulated knowledge’ (99 f.
This is an allusion to the simile used by Jesus:’ If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.’ 87 Correspondingly, Rappaccini surely has a certain amount of power – he created ‘new varieties of poison’ (100) and plants and also succeeded in manipulating Beatrice. In Baglioni’s eyes he’s exceedingly dangerous and powerful: he’s ‘a man who might hereafter (… ) hold [Giovanni’s] life and death in his hands’ (99).
However, he ignores how Paul qualifies the parable of the mustard seed in one of his letters: ‘If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge [that’s what Rapp.
wants: to understand the ‘inmost nature’ and ‘creative essence’ (96) of life], and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.’ 88 This is the reason why Rapaccini has to fail – he is nothing as he doesn’t have love. Conclusion By means of the setting in the 16 th century the tale of Rappaccini’s Daughter is given an all combining framework referred to by all the other elements of the story – the theme of human hubris, the spatial setting in Padua/Italy, the shaping of the characters as well as a number of traditional literary motives. By linking all elements of the story among themselves Hawthorne skilfully creates a finely knitted network that results in an impressively conclusive whole. Learn from me, if not by my precepts, at least by my example, how dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge and how much happier that man is who believes his native town to be the world, than he who aspires to become greater than his nature will allow. Mary Shelley, Frankenstein Bibliography Alighieri, Dante. The Divine Comedy.
London: Everyman, 1994. Alighieri, Dante. Die G” Kom”o die. Ditz ingen: Reclam, 1998. Arnim, Achim von; Brentano, Clemens, ed.
Des Knaben Wunderhorn: Alte Deutsche Lieder. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1995. Brednich, Rolf W. , ed.
Enzyklop”a die des M”arches, 9 vols. , Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1977- 1999. Frenzel, Elisabeth. Motive der Weltliteratur: Ein Lexikon Dichtungsgeschichtlicher L.” Stuttgart: Kr ” one, 1992.
Frenzel, Elisabeth. Stoffe der Weltliteratur: Ein Lexikon Dichtungsgeschichtlicher L.” Stuttgart: Kr ” one, 1998. Gale, Robert L. A Nathaniel Hawthorne Encyclopaedia. Westport: Greenwood, 1991. Goethe, Johann Wolfgang.
Faust. M”u nchen: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 1996. Hawthorne, Nathaniel. ‘Rappaccini’s Daughter’ in Mosses From an Old Manse. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1974.
Vol. 10 of The Centenary Edition of the Works of Nathaniel Hawthorne. 14 vols. 1962-80. Hoecker, R. Das Lehrgedicht des Karel van Mander.
Haag: Martinus Nijhoff, 1916. Holy Bible, New International Version. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1997. J”akel, G”unter, ed.
Das Volksbuch vom Till Eulenspiegel. Leipzig: Reclam, 1956. Marlowe, Christopher. ‘The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus’ in M. H.
Abrams, ed. , Norton Anthology of English Literature. New York: Norton, 1996. Ovid.
Metamorphosen. Frankfurt am Main: Insel Verlag, 1990. Rossetti, Lucia. Die Universit ” at Padua. Trieste: Edizioni Lint, 1985. Shelley, Mary.
Frankenstein. London: Penguin, 1994. Str”a ter, Thomas. ‘Der Archipel Brasilien: Ein Mythos und seine 500 j” Geschichte’ in Neue Z”ur cher Zeitung, 22.
/23. April 2000, 49. 1 ‘Rappaccini’s Daughter’ in Robert L. Gale, A Nathaniel Hawthorne Encyclopaedia (Westport: Greenwood 1991) 419.
2 With their golden ringlets (102, 104), Giovanni and Beatrice resemble the typical, noble and beautiful children of kings of the folk legend.’ Es weren zwei Edel k” = Kinder, Die bei den, die hat ten sich lie, Beisammen she dir nit, Das Wasser war viel zu tie’ (Achim von Arnim, Clemens Brentano, ed. , Des Knaben Wunderhorn: Alte Deutsche Lieder (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft 1995) 471).
‘Earthly union and earthly happiness’ (126) are impossible for both couples, and in both cases the ‘princess’ eventually kills herself in desperation. The fact that ‘Rappaccini’s Daughter’ tells the story of an unhappy love indicates that the story is, although it contains quite a number of typical fairytale motives, not meant to be understood as a classical fairytale. Fairy stories above all deal with the fulfilment of desires, they are essentially stories of happiness (‘M”a rchen’ in Rolf W. Brednich, ed.
, Enzyklop”a die des M”arches, vol. 9 (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter 1999) 264).
3 Nathaniel Hawthorne, ‘Rappaccini’s Daughter’ in Mosses From an Old Manse (Columbus: Ohio State UP, 1974) 92. Vol.
10 of The Centenary Edition of the Works of Nathaniel Hawthorne, 14 vols. , 1962-80. All subsequent references to ‘Rappaccini’s Daughter’ are to this edition and will be given directly in the text, not by means of footnotes. 4 = ‘The New Adam and Eve.’ 5 = Hawthorne’s essay ‘Fire-Worship.’ 6 = ‘The Celestial Railroad.’ 7 = ‘Egotism; or the Bosom Friend’ (its original title was ‘Egotism; or, the Bosom Serpent’).
8 In India there have been reports of poisonous girls (‘Giftm ” ad chen’) since the 5 th century AD.
Like Beatrice, these girls were said to have been fed on poison from birth. This story has frequently appeared in European literature and scientific writings (‘Giftm ” ad chen’ in Enzyklop”a die des M”arches, vol. 5 (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter 1987) 1241 f. ).
9 Genesis 2: 9. Holy Bible, New International Version (London: Hodder and Stoughton 1997).
All subsequent references to the Bible are to this edition. 10 ‘Garten, G”artier’ in Enzyklop”a die des M”arches, vol. 5, 701. 11 Genesis 2: 9.
12 Genesis 3: 5. 13 Genesis 3: 24. 14 ‘Garten, G”artier’ in Enzyklop”a die des M”arches, vol. 5, 703. 15 Ibid. 16 Ibid.
, 702. Gardens are often the whereabouts of transformed or enchanted persons (Beatrice) and the place where enchantments take place as well as redemption’s. Correspondingly, Giovanni’s attempt to redeem Beatrice by means of Baglioni’s antidote is carried out in the garden (126 f. ).
(‘Garten, G”artier’ in Enzyklop”a die des M”arches, vol. 5, 704-707) 17 Ibid.
, 701. 18 As they are places of seclusion, the gardens of the fairytale are preferred especially by lovers for their secret meetings (cf. Giovanni’s daily ‘meeting[s] with Beatrice in the garden’ (116) ).
In addition it is usually the place where the hero (Giovanni) for the first time meets his future partner (Beatrice) or a person in need of redemption (Beatrice) (‘Garten, G”artier’ in Enzyklop”a die des M”arches, vol. 5, 703-707).
19 ‘Garten’ in Knaurs Lexikon der Symbole, CD-ROM, D roemer Knaurs, 1989, 1994, 1998.
20 Another typical fairytale element here is the circumstance that Giovanni has to rely on outside help from Lisabetta to get into the garden (108 f. ) (‘Garten, G”artier’ in Enzyklop”a die des M”arches, vol. 5, 701).
21 ‘Garten’ in Knaurs Lexikon der Symbole.
22 ‘Garten, G”artier’ in Enzyklop”a die des M”arches, vol. 5, 709. 23 Genesis 2: 9. 24 ‘Garten, G”artier’ in Enzyklop”a die des M”arches, vol. 5, 709. 25 E.
g. in Matthew 12: 39; 16: 4; Mark 8: 38 (‘Adultery’ in the ‘Bible Index,’ Holy Bible, New International Version (London: Hodder and Stoughton 1997) G 30).
‘They committed adultery with their idols; they even sacrificed their children’ (Ezekiel 23: 37).
And that’s another crime committed by Rappaccini – he sacrificed his daughter, he offered up ‘his child (… ) as the victim of his insane zeal for science’ (119).
He abuses his own daughter – by poisoning her, he makes it impossible for her to lead a normal life.
Instead, she has to lead a life in seclusion – as it were, he has forced a vow of chastity from her. 26 Christopher Marlowe, ‘The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus’ in: M. H. Abrams, ed.
, Norton Anthology of English Literature (New York: Norton 1996) Epilogue, 6. 27 John 1: 3. 28 Genesis 2: 15. 29 Genesis 2: 16-17.
30 ‘The fruit of the tree was (… ) desirable for gaining wisdom.’ Genesis 3: 6. 31 Genesis 2: 9. 32 1 John 4: 16.
33 1 Corinthians 13: 2. 34 The setting in a historical surrounding is a typical feature of the legend (‘Historisierung und Enthistorisierung’ in Rolf W. Brednich, ed. , Enzyklop”a die des M”arches, vol. 6 (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter 1990) 1094).
35 Lucia Rossetti, Die Universit ” at Padua (Trieste: Edizioni Lint, 1985) 28.
36 ‘Padua (Universit ” at) ‘ in Microsoft Encarta 98 Enzyklop”a die. 37 ‘Borgia’ in Microsoft Encarta 98 Enzyklop”a die. 38 G”unter J”akel, ‘Nachwort,’ in G”unter J”akel, ed. , Das Volksbuch vom Till Eulenspiegel (Leipzig: Reclam 1956) 210. 39 Ibid. An example is the gradual breaking down of the feudal system at that time (‘Renaissance’ in Microsoft Encarta 98 Enzyklop”a die).
40 ‘Padua’ in Rencontre-Lexikon in 20 B”and en, vol. 13 (Lausanne: Editions Rencontre) 297. 41 ‘These are the souls of tyrants, who were given To blood and rapine. (… ) (… ) That brow, Whereon the hair so jetty c lust ” ring hangs, Is Azzolino;’ Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy (London: Everyman 1994) Hell, XII, 104-110.
42 ‘Renaissance’ in Microsoft Encarta 98 Enzyklop”a die. 43 ‘Kopernikus, Nikolaus’ in Microsoft Encarta 98 Enzyklop”a die. 44 ‘Galilei, Galileo’ in Microsoft Encarta 98 Enzyklop”a die. 45 Padua is the setting for Shakespeare The Taming of the Shrew, written in 1588 or 1589 and first published in 1623.
He transferred the scene of his story from Ferrara, where it is set in his source, Gascoigne’s play Supposes, to Padua, as this city was better known to his audience (Charles Boyce, The Wordsworth Dictionary of Shakespeare (Ware: Wordsworth Editions 1996) 480).
46 Lucia Rossetti, Die Universit ” at Padua (Trieste: Edizioni Lint, 1985) 28. Another interesting fact is that according to the statutes of the Paduan university, every professor was obliged to have one competing colleague. Both had to lecture and comment on the same texts at the same time.
As the students were free to choose which lecture to attend, the lecturers endeavoured to excel each other. This was considered to be for the benefit of science and could be the historical core of the ‘professional warfare of long continuance’ (100) between Baglioni and Rappaccini (Die Universit ” at Padua 14).
47 ‘Renaissance’ in Microsoft Encarta 98 Enzyklop”a die. 48 Ovid, Metamorphosen (Frankfurt am Main: Insel, 1990) 336.
49 The Greek authors Euhemerus (around 300 BC) and Iambulos (circa 100 BC) for instance reported of peoples on blissful islands (‘Wilde, Der edge’ in Elisabeth Frenzel, Motive der Weltliteratur: Ein Lexikon Dichtungsgeschichtlicher L” (Stuttgart: Kr ” one 1992) 830).
50 Thomas Str”a ter, ‘Der Archipel Brasilien: Ein Mythos und seine 500 j” Geschichte’ in Neue Z”ur cher Zeitung, 22. /23. April 2000, 49. 51 ‘Wilde, Der edge’ in Motive der Weltliteratur 831. 52 Ibid.
53 Ibid. , 832. 54 An example of this way of thinking can be found in Karel van Mander’s Den Gro ndt der Edel Very Schilder-Const of 1604, a theoretical work on the training of painters:’ De forme van eels Menschen lief eer same Is ede l / en van Nature te wonder / Ghevoeght te same met con ste ‘ (‘The form of the body of an honourable man is noble and put together by nature with exceptional skilful ness’) R. Hoecker, Das Lehrgedicht des Karel van Mander (Haag: Martinus Nijhoff 1916) 66.
55 ‘Colours in Symbolism’ in Ebenezer Cobham Brewer, Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (London: Cassell 1997) 238. 56 ‘Farben, Farbsymbolik’ in Rolf W. Brednich, ed. , Enzyklop”a die des M”arches, vol. 4 (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter 1984) 847.
57 ‘Teufelsb ” under’ in Elisabeth Frenzel, Motive der Weltliteratur: Ein Lexikon Dichtungsgeschichtlicher L” (Stuttgart: Kr ” one 1992) 681. 58 Ibid. , 684. 59 Ibid. , 685.
60 G”unter J”akel, ‘Nachwort,’ in G”unter J”akel, ed. , Das Volksbuch vom Till Eulenspiegel (Leipzig: Reclam 1956) 210. 61 This tendency to link moral judgments to stereotypical characters is a typical feature of the legend (‘Gut und b”one’ in Rolf W. Brednich, ed. , Enzyklop”a die des M”arches, vol. 6 (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter 1990) 316 f.
62 Baglioni sees himself as a warrior in a holy war defending the ‘divine art of medicine’ (99), for the sake of which he is even willing to kill Beatrice – what he holds against Rappaccini is true of himself, too: ‘He cares infinitely more for science than for mankind’ (99).
63 Das 16. Jahrhunderts erscheint ‘den Nachgeborenen in einer Weise durch Gr”o sse und Tragic v erkl ” art, dass es immer wider zu und wissenschaftliche r Ausdeutung hat: Goethe zum Faust… .’ (G”unter J”akel, ‘Nachwort,’ in Das Volksbuch vom Till Eulenspiegel 210).
64 ‘Faust’ in Stoffe der Weltliteratur 218.
65 ‘Die Ursache n f”ur die Aktualit ” at des F. -stoffel in der Zeit zwischen 1750 and 1850’ lie gen be gr ” under in der Tats ache, dass er ‘die Sens ” uche und W”unsc he der b”u rgerlichen Klasse nach geistiger Selbst” und gesellschaftliche r Freiheit ‘ (‘Faust’ in Enzyklop”a die des M”arches, vol. 4, 916).
66 The first part was published in 1808. 67 Ibid. , 905.
68 Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Faust (M”u nchen: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 1996).
All subsequent references to ‘Faust’ are to this edition. 69 Christopher Marlowe, The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus, Scene 1, 20-23. 70 Ibid. , Epilogue, 4-8.
71 Ibid. , Scene 1, 76-77. 72 The blasphemous behaviour of Rappaccini’s reaches its peak in the final scene where he spreads ‘out his hands over [Giovanni and Beatrice] in the attitude of a father imploring a blessing upon his children’ (126).
This scene resembles the Holy Trinity of God, the concept of the three persons in one God. The whole scene is nothing but a ‘scattering [curse] abroad in the likeness of holy symbols’ (124).
Rappaccini, who thinks he has eventually attained unlimited power like a god, takes the position of God the Father. Beatrice, who is said to be like ‘an immortal spirit’ (94), takes the position of God the Holy Ghost. Giovanni is God the Son. He’s referred to as a redeemer several times throughout the story: Baglioni wants Giovanni to drink off his ‘glass of lachrymal’ (101).
This is not only a reference to the last supper, but also to Jesus’ agony in Gethsemane where he anticipates his terrible fate, symbolized by the cup, and prays to his father: ‘My father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done’. Baglioni wants Giovanni to drink his cup, i.
e. to accept his fate and take the task upon himself that the professor has destined for him – to deliver the world from the evil Rappaccini. Giovanni is ‘Baglioni’s Son’. Beatrice says to Giovanni that ‘Heaven sent thee’ (123).
He wants to redeem Beatrice by means of the poison Baglioni gave him and dreams of ‘leading (… ) the redeemed Beatrice (…
) by the hand’ (126).
73 Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’ must have been a source of inspiration for Hawthorne as regards the model ling of several other characters besides Victor Frankenstein. Hawthorne’s Baglioni, a professor of medicine, reminds of both Prof. Krempe and Prof. Waldmann. On the one hand, Baglioni’s friendly and open manners (99) correspond to the ‘benevolence,’ ‘affability and kindness’ (Shelley, 45) of Waldmann – the man who encourages Frankenstein to carry on working on the old alchemists.
On the other hand, Baglioni warns Giovanni, the first-year student, not ‘to imbibe erroneous ideas’ (99).
Correspondingly, Krempe warns Frankenstein, a freshman as well, of straying from the straight and narrow with regard to his scientific interests. Beatrice, with whom Giovanni converses ‘like a brother’ (113), has a lot in common with Elizabeth, Frankenstein’s ‘more than sister’ (Shelley, 34) (who is in fact adopted), especially her innocence. Elizabeth is described as ‘a being heaven sent, and bearing a celestial stamp in all her features’ as well as a ‘child fairer than a pictured cherub’ (Shelley, 33), which corresponds to the description of Beatrice as ‘a heavenly angel’ (122).
Cherubim are the angels that God ‘placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden (… ) to guard the way to the tree of life’ (Genesis 3: 24) after the Fall.
This is exactly what Beatrice does. She guards the way to the ‘shrub (… ) in the midst of the pool’ (95) (which corresponds to the tree of life in the midst of the Garden of Eden): ‘Touch it not! (… ) Not for thy life! It is fatal!’ (114).
74 Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (London: Penguin, 1994) 35. 75 Ibid.
, 46. 76 However, they are doomed anyway (‘Teufelsb ” under’ in Motive der Weltliteratur 682).
77 Frankenstein 39. 78 ‘Mensch, Der k”‘ in Elisabeth Frenzel, Motive der Weltliteratur: Ein Lexikon Dichtungsgeschichtlicher L”ants- (Stuttgart: Kr ” one 1992) 514.
79 Ibid. , 37 f. 80 Ibid. , 38.
81 Frankenstein 213. 82 Tragical misunderstandings are a typical topic of the legend (ball, / beatrice b”one) (‘Miss verst”‘ in Rolf W. Brednich, ed. , Enzyklop”a die des M”arches, vol. 9 (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter 1999) 708).
83 Frankenstein 162.
84 Ibid. , 52. 85 ‘Giftm ” ad chen’ in Rolf W. Brednich, ed. , Enzyklop”a die des M”arches, vol. 5 (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter 1987) 1241.
86 ‘Mensch, Der k”‘ in Elisabeth Frenzel, Motive der Weltliteratur 511. 87 Matthew 17: 20. Also in Luke 17: 6. 88 1 Corinthians 13: 2..