“Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment,” by Nathaniel Hawthorne is a prime example of an allegory. An allegory can be defined as a work of literature in which events, characters and details of setting have a symbolic meaning. An allegory is also used to teach or explain moral principles and universal truths. The short story has many symbols and one, main, universal truth. These symbols and principles mold together to form a well-developed allegory.
Hawthorne’s short story has many symbols; the book of magic, the mirror, the skeleton, but most importantly, the characters. In the story, Dr. Heidegger chooses four different people as subjects in his experiment. There are three men and one woman. Mr. Medbourne was a man lost in money in his young days. He lost all of his belongings and wealth in one blow because he couldn’t be happy with what he had. Mr. Medbourne represented greed. Colonel Killigrew wasted his life away party and living the high-life. He never did anything with his life, and because of this, represented sinful pleasure. Mr. Gascoigne was a very powerful man in politics and took advantage of his high power. He represents political corruption. Widow Wicherly was a beautiful woman who hid from society for many years. She is a symbol for vanity and scandal. The symbols fit the description of an allegory.
A major part of an allegory is the universal truths the story displays. “Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment” shows that people never learn from their mistakes. Dr. Heidegger proves this by giving the four subjects some liquid from the Fountain of Youth. After making the subjects think they are young, they still fight and argue about the same things they had problems with in their younger years. This universal truth fits the definition of an allegory.
Mr. Medbourne, Colonel Killigrew, Mr. Gascoigne, and Widow Wicherly, all have done something major in their life to ruin their self-image and others perception of them. After all subjects drank the liquid, they...
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