Science in Nathaniel Hawthorne's Rappaccini's Daughter

1363 Words 6 Pages
The short story “Rappaccini’s Daughter” can be seen as a love story about young man determined to be with his beloved, despite the fact that she is poisonous. However, when examining the text, underlying theme about science arise. During the time in which this piece was written, science was rapidly evolving. “All biological sciences must first go through a taxonomic stage since their data must be put in order before they can be employed in research on an analytical level”(Shryock 291) “Rappaccini’s Daughter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne uses Rappaccini’s unrelenting pursuit of knowledge that resulted in the tragic loss of his daughter; to show the productive and destructive powers of scientific discovery, which evolved American society …show more content…
These discoveries helped shape the views of 18th century American society. Parallels about religion can also be made by comparing Rappaccini’s poisonous garden and the Garden of Eden. The story contains many biblical allegories which hinted to the viewpoint of that time. The most significant Parallel that can be made between the story and 18th century American Society is the use of science to explain the rank of creatures in nature. “The Mismeasure of Man” by Stephen Jay Gould is an important tool in critiquing the misuse of science to justify social inequalities such as racism and sexism. “In assessing the impact of science upon the 18th century views of race we must first recognize the cultural milieu of a society whose leaders and intellectuals did not doubt the propriety of racial ranking- with Indians below Whites and Blacks below every one”(Gould 63) Rappaccini uses the excuse that the world is dangerous to justify why her made his daughter poisonous. He fails to realize that he is actually hurting his daughter Beatrice. “Rappaccini myopically ignores the needs of others, imposing his sense of things on the people who fall under his control.(Wachtel) His selfish actions shows that he has a lack of morals. A second parallel that can be made is Rappaccini’s desire to have dominion over nature Dr. Rappaccini is extremely talented botanist; he has
Open Document