Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, is based on Dr. Heidegger. He is given the right and the ability to control magic. At the beginning of the story he is just a magician, at the end he is “Father Time”. When he plays with magic and the souls of his friends he is “God”. He does not drink the water from the fountain of youth, but he corrupts the minds and hearts of others. Heidegger is a failure, but unlike the others he learns from his mistakes and understands the importance of youth and experience. Colonel Killigrew wasted his life in “sinful treasures”. Mr. Medbourne lost his money by making bad business decisions. As for Widow Wycherly, she displays an urgent need for a drink.
The theme of sinful pleasures comes into play when Colonel Killigrew drinks the water, but yet continues to lie. He didn’t learn from his mistakes. He repeated the same mistakes. He wasted his best years, and his health and substance, which had given birth to a brood of pains, such as the gout, and divers other torments of soul and body. The widow knew that Colonel Killingrew’s compliments weren’t always measured by sober truth. Colonel all this time had been trolling forth a jolly bottle-song, and ringing his glass in symphony with the chorus, while his eyes wandered toward the buxom figure of the Widow Wycherly.
The theme of money and greed is presented because Mr. Medbourne claims to have lost his money in a stock investment. He was once a rich merchant but lost all his money by gambling. He was now a little better than a mendicant. Mr. Medbourne was involved in a calculation of dollars and cents, with which was strangely intermingled a project for supplying the East Indies with ice, by harnessing a team of whales to the polar icebergs. He said that the widow had promised him her hand first, fifty years ago.
The theme of vanity is explored through Widow Wycherly she is desperate for a drink. She wanted more and more. She was a great beauty in her day. Each of the three gentlemen were early lovers of the Widow Wycherly, and had once been on the point of cutting each other’s throats for her sake. The Widow Wycherly adjusted her cap, for she felt almost like a woman again. She stood before the mirror, curtseying and simpering to her own image, and greeting it as the friend whom she loved better than all the world beside.
In conclusion Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment presents important ideas about life. The reader may learn that the three gentlemen are examples of people who surround us. Some people are given a second chance to improve themselves and learn from their mistakes, but some may take it for granted. They refuse to look at their past, and make some changes.
January 9, 2018
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