OK, so to summarize:

1) TextArea have a value property (as per DOM 2 specs),
2) Prototype Element#setValue uses the value property (not the HTML
value attribute),
3) Proper, standard compliant way of doing what OP wants:

    textArea.value = content.unescapeHTML();

4) Prototype way of doing it:

    $(textArea).setValue(content.unescapeHTML());

It's a bit slower (obviously) but you benefit from using a consistant
API for all form elements.

5) Possible non-standard shortcut suggest by Rob (Note that setting
innerHTML on textarea elements is NOT trustable across browsers[1]. I
do NOT recommend it):

    textArea.innerHTML = content;

Best,

Tobie

[1] Safari and IE won't update the textarea if the added content
contains HTML tags, whitespace is not respected in IE at all,  etc.
see notably: http://stud3.tuwien.ac.at/~e0226430/innerHtmlQuirk.html

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