During the semester we have went on many field trips as a class. My favorite was the “Frick Collection,” but my second favorite was taking a stroll through central park to see the statue of Shakespeare. I found this really exciting because we were ending The tempest and starting to read Prospero’s Daughter so it was interesting to discuss the comparisons and differences in each book as we view the statue, asking ourselves “I wish we can ask Shakespeare some questions about The Tempest,” (I know I was thinking about that).
Its interesting to realize that although Shakespeare’s writing can often come by as confusing and sometimes dense, but once you grasp his writing your able to appreciate the text a little bit better and are able to generate ideas as to why he wrote a play like this, or why he made certain characters the way that he did. After reading The Tempest twice I have a different concept the second time around then I did the first time I read this play. I have appreciated this play this time around and I enjoyed it a lot more in English 252.
Shakespeare was a great writer and his words made you think outside of the box. Shakespeare wanted his readers to “close read” “close look” and most importantly “close listen” it is because of Shakespeare that I have enjoyed reading a little more than I did before.
In Central Park, we were also allowed to explore the park and the beauty in the park. The trees, the flowers blossoming it was very peaceful. Nature also played a role in this trip because it was out doors so we were able to explore the park and other statues and gain knowledge on other parts of the park, but it was really a great experience for our class and I’m glad we were able to explore that all together.
The court is crowded with people who are impatiently waiting for the deliberation. The defendant, Doctor Giacomo Rappaccini, is staring into the space with hollowness in his eyes and is waiting for the judge to continue. The judge is staring at the defendant but is speaking to the Defense Attorney.
Today after a long journey of a year this court has seen both sides of the case and now before the jury is sent for deliberation, is there anything you must say Mr. Rob in defense of Mr. Rappaccini?
Yes your Honor, I do.
Well Mr. Rob the floor is yours.
Thank you, your honor. Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen of the jury and people of Padua. Today we have gathered here for a case so unique that people of Padua and the media has called it the case of the century. For the past year, we have seen the media turn this case into a typical news story for which this case has gained a lot of fame. However, we have seen the media version of this case but we have not seen the facts, but I am not here today to fight the people nor the media. I am here today, to ask a question and ask you all to not only hear me but to listen to me. I want you to listen to the questions I am about to ask of you and think of an honest reply and answer yourself and see a side of this case that the media nor the prosecutor has presented. Ladies and Gentlemen, I want to reintroduce you to Dr. Giacomo Rappaccini, not the man that the media or the prosecutor has presented, but to a scientist, who once was a superhero to his daughter, but now has become a grieving father. You may call him Dr. Rappaccini, Giacomo, or even Gia but you may not call him a criminal, at least not until you have heard Rappaccini’s side of the story or until he is proven guilty. The question I want to ask you is, have you ever done something with the best interest at heart, but when somehow something goes wrong, you get punished for helping? Or have you ever dreamed of saving people by creating a cure to all diseases and poison known to mankind? If you have, then you might have experienced what Rappaccini had, which is passion. Passion and desire is needed to change the world. However, not only did Rappaccini dream of a cure, he had dared to act upon that dream. Rappaccini is a scientist who envisioned a world with a cure to every disease. He tried to save the world through his work and like any ambitious man, he had to make sacrifices. As a scientist, he had to sacrifice his social and personal life just so he could save others, just so that no one else would have to experience the loss of a significant other, or a child being raised without a parent. Imagine having to live in constant fear of someone you love being forced to leave you by a serial killer called nature. So to ensure your only child is not a victim of this killer, you raise her in a way that no disease will be able to harm her. Now imagine being accused of murder just because you wanted your daughter to be protected against a nondiscriminatory murderer? Not only did Rappaccini try to save his daughter but he also had choosen to use this situation to benefit the society as well. If the treatment works, it could become a cure. However, as she will be undertreatment, she will be sacrificing her chance at a normal life. However as a father, Rappaccini had found a solution and that solution was called Giovanni. Earlier on, we have heard the prosecutor stating, “Rappaccini should be put on the chair for a heinous crime of murder.” What I would like to ask is why Rappaccini? On what basis is the prosecutor claiming murder, when all of the evidence is stating that Rappaccini is the victim in this case. The only crime, if you must say, Dr. Rappaccini has committed, was hoping that his daughter will not be alone for the rest of her life like he was. The crime he committed was to want a better future for his daughter and let her love. He was a selfish father who wanted a normal life for his daughter so by letting Giovanni close to his daughter, he was ensuring normality. Even though her life was far from what would be considered normal, he still tried. He had sacrificed his daughter, not only for himself, but to make this world a better place. He had done it to help and increase the speed of science and did something only a true scientist would do, sacrifice the one thing they loved the most. Now you must be wondering why Rappaccini was put on trial if he had not committed a crime? Well people of the jury, it is simple. It is because this is a typical case of stereotyping. She had labeled him something that he was not. The prosecutor has assumed as stated, “Rappaccini is a heartless scientist.” Why has that been stated? Because in reality Rappaccini loved his daughter more than anything. He might have lost his wife but not his heart, as being a single father, he had to be the mother and the father to his little girl. After knowing this is it believable that a person who has to raise a child as both parents can be heartless? No, because a heartless person will not be able to fulfil the role of both parents. So why was he called heartless? Maybe because he was ambitious. People of Padua, I am asking of you to stop for a moment and look through Rappaccini’s eye and see, to help science progress, he has not gained anything. In fact, he has faced many losses and has lost his daughter. The only criminal in this case is Giovanni as he was the one who promised her love and a normal life and then snatched the dream away heartlessly. Not only did he murder her dreams but had murdered her, literally. He had given her poison and promised her it was a “cure.”
A sob is heard from Rappaccini as Rob continues*
People of the jury, I am asking of you to look at the case and its facts, as the fact is that Giovanni has taken a child from a father. So the person on trial should not be Rappaccini, but instead should be Giovanni. Before I finish today, I want to ask of you to look at this grieving father and not to pity him but think of the pain the murderer had inflicted on him. The pain he is going through just because he wanted his daughter to have a normal life and because of his desire to change the world. So ladies and gentlemen of the jury I hope you have heard the facts now and will decide in favor of justice. I rest my case.
Silence prevails in the courtroom and the Defendant is seen crying but in silence.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel, and Simon Schama. Rappaccini’s Daughter. London: Hesperus Press, 2003. Print.
Set in Supreme Court of Padua similar to USA court:
Remember the sky that you were born under,
know each of the star’s stories.
Remember the moon, know who she is.
Remember the sun’s birth at dawn, that is the
strongest point of time. Remember sundown
and the giving away to night.
Remember your birth, how your mother struggled
to give you form and breath. You are evidence of
her life, and her mother’s, and hers.
Remember your father. He is your life, also.
Remember the earth whose skin you are:
red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth
brown earth, we are earth.
Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their
tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them,
listen to them. They are alive poems.
Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the
origin of this universe.
Remember you are all people and all people
Remember you are this universe and this
universe is you.
Remember all is in motion, is growing, is you.
Remember language comes from this.
Remember the dance language is, that life is.
As part of National Poetry Month, I have been trying read or post a poem a day. When I encountered this poem, I couldn’t help but think of the works we have read in class this semester: Mother Nature by Emily Dickinson; The Last Man by Mary Shelly; and, Prospero’s Daughter by Elizabeth Nunez. As Joy Harjo has done, Dickinson, Shelly, and Nunez all personify nature in order to raise awareness about or strengthen our connection to the natural world. Nature, in these works, is seen as having both positive as well as less than noble characteristics similar to traits and flaws possessed by humans.
All of these authors have understood that humanity is not only one aspect of nature, but humanity is also dependent on the natural world for survival. Mankind is but one component of the ecosystem—it is not separate from this planet’s ecology. As Mary Shelley expressed, without man, nature will continue; however, without nature, mankind will disappear. Therefore, it is incumbent on us all to protect the very world that has given us a great deal of what may be extremely dear to us: clean air, water, sunshine, nourishment, shelter material, and familial bonds.
In their own way, these women want to remind us how all life that exists emerges from what is in existence and has already existed. Woven through these works, the awe-inspiring aspects of nature are described. Through the characters, the authors show how, first, nature seems to have an innate appeal—serves a primitive need in humans; and, secondly, temperamentally, man and nature mirror each other. All life appears to operate on both a balance and a spectrum. Dickinson introduces us to the unconditionally benign “gentlest mother” Nature. Shelley, on the other hand, begins with an authoritative veil by calling Nature “herself was only his first minister”; however, as the story progresses, Shelley depicts an unleashed, angry, and revengeful Nature who answers to no one. Finally, Nunez depicts a Nature oppressive to some but not to all—where some reject it while others embrace and welcome it as is. In all three works, we glimpse moments where Nature demonstrates its duality as well as our human powerlessness against its ferocity. And, in not so many words, this is what Joy Harjo is expressing in her poem, Remember. For Harjo, hubris has no place in this world as we are all one with nature. Man has the ability to provoke nature, but man cannot control it. Ultimately, man is but a small player in the universe.