Rappaccini’s Daughter


Nathaniel Hawthorne

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Rappaccini’s Daughter: Style 1 key example

Rappaccini’s Daughter
Explanation and Analysis—Style:

The style of "Rappaccini's Daughter" is formal and ornate. This is particularly evident in the narrator's verbose, even mannered, way of introducing of Giovanni and his introduction to his new home in Padua: 

A young man, named Giovanni Guasconti, came, very long ago, from the more southern region of Italy, to pursue his studies at the University of Padua. [...] The young stranger, who was not unstudied in the great poem of his country, recollected that one of the occupants of this family, and perhaps an occupant of this very mansion, had been pictured by Dante as a partaker of the immortal agonies of his Inferno. 

The use of the phrase "very long ago" situates the story in a distant but unspecified past in a manner that is reminiscent of myths or fairy tales. This fable-like language leads the reader to anticipate elements of fantasy or the supernatural. In addition, the passage above contains several instances of meandering and indirect language, such as the use of the phrase "not unstudied," which has a somewhat stilted, formal sound to it. This ornate language helps situate readers within the academic environment of the story's setting in Padua.