Dr. Heidegger's Experiment: Reality or Illusion

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Dr. Heidegger's Experiment: Reality or Illusion

In Nathaniel Hawthorne's short story Dr. Heidegger's Experiment, one of the central ideas of the story revolves around the idea of reality versus illusion. Of course the overriding theme of the story dealt with the ethical dilemma of changing old age into youth, still a major part of how the story was interpreted involved a personal decision on how you took the story; as literal or figurative. The perception that appealed to me the most was reading the text as literal, and concluding the experiment as reality rather then a figment of imagination caused by the intoxicating brew.

A couple of points that Hawthorne made led me to believe that the story was indeed a true testament of the powers of the magical water. The first is rather evident and straight forward because it happens before a single person even raises glass close to their lips. I am of course referring to the fifty- five year old rose that was given to Dr. Heidegger on the eve of his wedding by his bride to be. Heidegger places the rose in the water so there could be proof of the mysterious water's power, but in the same act of proving its power to his guests Hawthorne proves to us the power of the water because when the rose regains life nobody was drunk or had even attempted to drink the water.

"The crushed and dried petals stirred, and assumed a deepening tinge of crimson, as if the flower were reviving from a death-like slumber;"(page 3)

It is that clear cut, and completely undeniable considering that five people witnessed the act and not one had the slightest objection.

After the first drink of the potion until the last, I was still led to the opinion that what the guests were experiencing was in fact real and completely genuine. At this point I will point out that it is at this exact moment where the issue of reality versus illusion begins to take shape. However, while we left to toil with this intriguing notion, it seems...
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