Examples Of Knowledge In Rappaccini's Daughter

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In society, especially in the time of the Enlightenment, pursuit of knowledge through the use of rationality and reason was thought of as every man’s goal. Thus, innocence had negative connotations associated with it. When Romanticism began, thoughts associated with the Enlightenment were thrown upside-down. Nathaniel Hawthorne shows in “Rappaccini’s Daughter,” through the characters of Giovanni and Beatrice, how innocence is something to be valued. He shows how knowledge is a form of corruption and how its pursuit is responsible for the ruin of their characters. Giovanni is portrayed in the beginning of the story as completely innocent and unknowing. He knows little about this new place where he came to study, and he longs for his hometown. In the physical sense he is a healthy and handsome young man and is…show more content…
He believes knowledge is a poison, leading to the decay and the loss on one’s innocence. The pursuit of knowledge turned Rappaccini into a monster. He was so obsessed with science that he would “sacrifice human life…or whatever else was dearest to him, for the sake of a adding so much as a grain of mustard-seed” to his store of knowledge. Baglioni’s pursuit of knowledge also corrupted him. He becomes so preoccupied with bringing about Rappaccini’s downfall that he himself descends to Rappaccini’s level. He orchestrates the death of Beatrice just to pull ahead in his professional rivalry. The toxicity of the flowers in the garden is used as a metaphor for corruption or the lack of innocence. Hawthorne demonstrates how innocence is something that once taken, cannot ever be returned. Once Beatrice realizes the horrible truth, that she has been contaminated by the poison and transformed by her own father into such a terrible creature, she wants her innocence back. Thus, when Beatrice drinks the “antidote” made by Baglioni, it does not “cure” her of the poison but kills
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