Comparing Artist of the Beautiful, Rappaccini's Daughter, Birthmark and Prophetic Pictures

1051 Words 5 Pages
Comparing Perfection in Artist of the Beautiful, Rappaccini's Daughter, Birthmark and Prophetic Pictures

In four of Hawthorne's stories there is a struggle for power and control as a vehicle to obtain perfection or beauty. In "The Artist of the Beautiful", "Rappaccini's Daughter", "The Birthmark" and "The Prophetic Pictures" the characters are controlled by their desire for perfection in their creations, but they do not achieve their goals without sacrifice.

In "The Artist of the Beautiful" Owen is spends years perfecting his creation. His quest for "the Beautiful" controls him. His sensitivity to delicate perfection affects him even physically as he is made ill by the large mechanical steam engine. "Being once carried to see a
…show more content…
His desire for knowledge through scientific experimentation is the central purpose of his life. According to Baglioni "he cares infinitely more for science than for mankind". By binding his daughter to the poisonous garden Rappaccini had used his power as a scientist to take away her freedom. Beatrice has no power, she is helpless. "There was an awful doom...the effect of my father's fatal love of science, which estranged me from all society of my kind". Unfortunately she is also the victim of Baglioni's quest for power and revenge against her father. Baglioni's power, convincing Giovanni that Beatrice could be saved, conquers even Rappaccini's control. In their obsessive pursuit of knowledge and power as a means of scientific control Rappaccini and Baglioni sacrifice Beatrice (and even Giovanni). They all overstep their boundaries by using her and only when she kills herself does Beatrice reclaim the power over her own life. In the pursuit of knowledge and power great sacrifices are made. But unlike "The Artist of the Beautiful" the person who makes the sacrifice (Beatrice) has no choice. She is punished and the men who would use her as a means of control in life are not.

We again see the quest for perfection on the part of a scientifically minded person in "The Birthmark". Alymer's obsessive thoughts and determination to free his wife and himself from the birthmark prove to be
Open Document