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Plot Summary of Rappaccini's Daughter by Nathaniel Hawthorne - Section III

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Plot Summary of Rappaccini's Daughter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Summary of Rappaccini's Daughter Section II
Summary of Rappaccini's Daughter Section 3

After this important meeting between Giovanni and Beatrice Rappaccini, the two are inseparable and meet one another each day; in fact, it becomes the purpose of both of their lives and they have a relationship as if they were friends since they were children. Still, despite this, there is a certain distance Giovanni feels from Beatrice and he senses she is holding back from him but when he tries to ask, she grows dark and will speak of anything.

One afternoon after the two have been spending each day together, Baglioni comes by for an unexpected visit. He chats casually at first and then tells Giovanni a tale he read about an Indian prince who sent a beautiful woman as a gift to Alexander the Great. Alexander falls in love with her immediately but finds that she harbored a dangerous secret; throughout her life she had been “nourished with poisons…until he her whole nature was so imbued with them that she became the deadliest poison in existence.” Giovanni scolds him for reading silly fairy tales but Baglioni tells him that there is a strange perfume on everything he owns, even though there are no flowers in his apartment. Baglioni tells him the smell is that of a vile medicine, probably concocted by Rappaccini, and this does, against his will, get Giovanni thinking outside of his pure adoration for Beatirice. Baglioni reminds Giovanni that Doctor Giovanni views people—even his own daughter—as the subjects of scientific inquiry and that it would not be past him to use his daughter and turn her into a dangerous walking poison.

Baglioni presents Giovanni with a small silver vial with a antidote to any poison in the world and tells him that it is the only way to prove Rappaccini’s dreadful experiment on his daughter. Giovanni suddenly remembers the flowers and insects wilting when Beatrice touched them and begins to see another side of who she might be. With these thoughts intermingled with his love for her in mind, he hastens to the florists and buys a fresh bouquet of flowers to test the assertion that she was, indeed, poisonous. Before he heads out to his meeting with her, he sees his reflection in the glass and notices how wonderful and vibrant he looks and again has a moment of doubt about the poison. As he turns back to the flowers, however, he notices that they are already dying in his grasp and fearfully considers that his breath too might be poisonous. Amazed, he finds a spider, breathes on it and watches in horror as it dies before his eyes.

At first, Giovanni is incredibly angry but upon going to the garden and seeing Beatrice, he calms down. He asks her about the mysterious plant she calls her “sister” and with sadness, Beatrice tells him that she is nourished by its breath and that it is a creation of her father’s. She talks about how this “doom” makes her isolated and suddenly Giovanni explodes in rage and calls her accursed, a “poisonous thing” and screams at her about how she ruined him with her poison. Beatrice tries to pray but Giovanni mocks her, equating her with a pestilence. Giovanni cools and grows mournful. He produces the vial of antidote and Beatrice takes it quickly and drinks it.

Throughout this, Giovanni notices Doctor Rappaccini watching from afar and suddenly cries out for Beatrice to tell Giovanni to wear one of the poison blooms as he has made him into one of his creations. Beatrice sinks to the ground, “the poor victim of man’s ingenuity and of thwarted nature, and of the fatality that attends all such efforts of perverted wisdom” and dies at the feet of her father and Giovanni. Baglioni looks on and cackles in triumph and horror, a question, “And this is the upshot of your experiment?”