Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story Rappaccini’s Daughter, takes place in north Italy where Dr. Gaicomo Rappaccini grows poisonous plants in the attempt to extract medical cures. His daughter Beatrice, helps maintain the garden, not needing to wear a “mask over [her] mouth and nostrils” (42). Beatrice developed immunity to the poisonous plants, she was forced to live an isolated life since she was able to kill animals with the“atmosphere of her breath” (47). Therefore, Beatrice was forced to live an isolated life. Goivanni, a student enrolled in medical school, resided in an apartment overlooking Rappaccini’s Garden.  He was drawn to Beatrice’s beauty and mysterious powers. Dr. Bagliono was a professor at the school, and unknowing to Giovanni, both doctors were rivals who endeavour to outdo one another in the medical field. This short story focuses on Dr Rappaccini’s corruptive way for discovering a medical cure, lead Beatrice to love and fatality.

Even though the garden is defined as “savage beasts, or deadly snakes, or evil spirits” (42), the true corruptor is Dr. Rappaccini. He contaminates his soul by producing poison in order to proliferation his reputations as a doctor. When Beatrice falls in love with Goivanni he too develops the poisonous breath and in his attempt to save Beatrice he provides her a phial, given by Dr. Bagliono as an antidote to save her, which killed her.

I do recommend the short story, as it demonstrates how greediness leads to corruption which leads to love but at the end is fatal.


Hawthorne, Nathaniel. Rappaccini’s Daughter. Short Fiction: An Anthology. Second Edition. Eds. Mark Levene & Rosemary Sullivan. Oxford UP, 2015. (39-61)