Rappaccini’s Daughter Summary

Rappaccini’s Daughter Summary

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At the beginning of the short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne, “Rappaccini’s Daughter” the reader is introduced to the young man, the central character, Giovanni Guasconti ,who is living in a dreary room in an old palace that once held a resident who had been “pictured by Dante as a partaker of the immortal agonies of the Inferno.” This dim setting looks out onto a beautiful garden that Guasconti’s servant Lisabetta tells him is cultivated by Signor Giacomo Rappaccini, who is a famous doctor of ill repute and a man whom outsiders suspect dabbles in dark sciences.

As Giovanni Guasconti looks out, admiring the rare and amazingly lush garden, he spots the strange black-clad doctor tending to his plants and he notices that the man, who must be the Doctor Rappaccini, examines the plants in a very detached way and avoids any contact with them, seeming not to even want to breathe in the flowers or air. He even wore thick gloves and when he approached a certain majestic purple flower, he put a mask over his face and suddenly, seeming afflicted, calls out the name Beatrice. When Beatrice rushes to her father’s aid Guasconti notices with shock how beautiful she is and also notes that she bends over and touches the flowers and breathes in their fumes without any hesitation, calling the flower her “sister.” Her father looks on and Guasconti peers, hiding, from his window and doubting, as it stated in one of the important quotes from “Rappaccini’s Daughter” by Hawthorne, “whether it were a girl tending her favorite flower, or one sister performing the duties of affection to another.”

At this point in the plot summary of “Rappaccini’s Daughter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne, which is the same day, Giovanni goes brings a letter of introduction to a professor of medicine at the university named Signore Pietro Baglioni. The two chat over dinner and wine and Giovanni inquires about Doctor Rappaccini, only to find that Baglioni and others in the profession have “certain grave objections to his professional character” and that he has little concern for the subjects of his stody and would “sacrifice human life, his own among the rest, or whatever else was dearest to him, for the sake of adding so much as a grain of mustard-seed to the great heap of his accumulated knowledge.”