Comparing Women in Rappaccini's Daughter, Prophetic Pictures, Lady Eleanor's Mantle, and Birth-Mark

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The Role of Women in Rappaccini's Daughter, The Prophetic Pictures, Lady Eleanor's Mantle, and The Birth-Mark

When researching criticism on Hawthorne's works, I ran across an interesting piece that dealt with the feminist view of "The Birth-Mark." The article, written by Fetterly, explores the relationship between Aylmer and his wife, and how this relationship is a typical male-dominated situation. Although there is the fact that the story deals with the failure of the scientist, there is an underlying current here of how Aylmer views his wife: in a negative manner. This view towards women can be seen in several of the works of Hawthorne's - among them "Rappaccini's Daughter," "The Prophetic Pictures," and "Lady Eleanor's
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But why is he so concerned with trying to perfect her? Fetterly claims it is because of a deep seeded "profound hostility" that men have toward women. In this tale, and in the others, we can see how this profound hostility plays itself out.

In "Rappaccini's Daughter," Beatrice too is seen almost as the perfect women. She is beautiful and intelligent. However, here again, she is tainted by a deadly trait - everything she comes into contact with is poisoned. In this story, her trait is the result of a man's manipulation - this time, her father's. The title of the tale implies that there is importance on the father figure rather than on the daughter, as the emphasis is not on Beatrice's name, but her father's. So we must figure that we are seeing this female character in relationship to her father, as if she is not important enough to stand alone. Even though Beatrice is shown to possess so many good qualities, she is almost "too good to be true" - or, at least too good to be alive and a woman. As in the previous story, we see that it is again the woman who is subjected to the (evil) ways of the man who is trying to control her. She has a great intelligence, enough to take a professor's position at the local university, but she's doomed. In this piece, as in "The Birth-Mark," we focus mostly on her outward appearance rather than her

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