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Rappapcini’s Daughter vs. The Birthmark

How are experiments done without the use of guinea pigs to help us learn and understand what is being studied? Everyday lab animals, such as mice, are used in experiments as guinea pigs because they provide similar reactions in comparison to the human body. Thus, mush knowledge of science is gained through guinea pigs. However, in Nathaniel Hawthornes classic stories “Rappaccinis Daughter” and “The Birthmark” rather use humans to test their scientific studies.

The stories show two families of science-based backrounds caught between a passion for success in their scientific studies and love between a father and a daughter and a husband and a wife. Throughout the stories the scientist feel they are coming closer to success in their experiments, but in reality success is lost to tragedy in the end. In “Rappaccinis Daughter”, Rappaccini is the scientist and father of Beatrice. He is devoted to his scientific studies and to his daughters well-being. Rappaccini is the creator of plants with poisonous extracts thus only Beatrice can attend to.

Her father had altered her touch and made it deadly to protect her from the evils in the world. She is forced by her father to live in his world without any human contact, instead she can only embrace her “sister” plant in Rappaccinis garden. Beatrices sister plant is the only one that she can handle and embrace without it dying in her hands. As Hawthorne shows her closeness to her plants “Approaching the shrubs, she threw open her arms, as with a passionate ardor, and drew its branches into an intimate embrace,–so intimate that her features were hidden in its leafy bosom and her glistening ringlets all intermingled with the flowers.

Give me breath, my sister,” exclaimed Beatrice; “for I am faint with common air. ” Rappaccini is an overprotective father who tried to succeed on behalf of his daughters life by forcing her to be lonely, have no freedom, or human interactions. Beatrice dies by drinking a potion given to her that will supposedly cure her of her deadly touch. Consequencially she is confronted and taken by death. In conclusion, Rappaccinis experiment to save his daughter from the evils of the world, is unsuccessful because he holds Beatrice back from the freedom and experiences of life she desires.

If drinking the potion meant independence to live her own life, she was determined. Rappaccini failed to succeed because he drove his daughter to her death from his overprotection. In Hawthornes other classic story, “The Birthmark”, Aylmer marries a beautiful women, Georgiana. Although she possesses great beauty and charm, in the center of her left cheek was a birthmark of crimson color. As time progresses for these newlyweds, the birthmark becomes more and more intolerable to Aylmer. Aylmer was a man with a great passion for his science and would do anything to make his wife perfect by removing her dearest birthmark.

He has a dream, one that gives him an idea of how he can remove the crimson mark upon Georgianas face. As time passes she finds herself hating her birthmark and agrees to go to Aylmers laboratory for the removal of her once prized and unique possession. Almyer comes up with a potion and says to his wife “The concoction of the draught has been perfect, unless all my science have deceived me”. Aylmer shows his passion for science is far greater than for his wife. His selfishness, which is abundantly clear, he would stop at nothing until she is perfect.

As Georgiana downed the concoction “The crimson hand, which at first had been strongly visible upon the marble paleness of Georgianas cheek, now grew more faintly outlined. She remained not less pale than ever; but the birthmark, with every breathe that came and went, lost somewhat of its former distictness. ” Aylmer rejoiced with the thought of success. He was wrong. As the mark lightened with her every inhaled and exhaled, she was dying. Aylmer was so overcome for his love for science and a cure for his Georgianas birthmark that it drove him to kill his wife in order for her to be perfect.

He never once thought beauty comes from the inside and it takes more than looks to be a genuine person. Unsuccessfulness and selfishness where both qualities of the scientist in these two stories. Rappaccini should have allowed his daughter to have an choice or an open door to the world around her. Aylmer should have left Georgianas birthmark where it lay and loved her for who she was on the inside. In both stories, Beatrice and Georgiana where used as guinea pigs of foolish, selfish, and unsuccessful experiments that took their lives because the love of science was far greater than the love they where given by a father and a husband.

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