English II Honors Exam
Nathaniel Hawthorns short stories, such as, Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment, Rappaccini’s Daughter and The Birthmark all have an underlying meaning and demonstrate a similar recurring theme. Hawthorne uses his stories to clarify his beliefs on the competition between nature, religion, and science in everyday life. In all three of his short stories he refuses the concept of science coming before religion or nature. Hawthorne clearly thought if nature or religion was tampered with using science it could only end badly, but more specifically with death. In each of his stories there is a scientific experiment that defies both nature and religion ending harmfully. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s beliefs conclude that God and nature to ultimately be more powerful then science.
In Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment, Nathaniel Hawthorne creates a fictional experiment that resists both God and natures intentions. Dr. Heidegger gathers a few old acquaintances who seem to be unhappy with their lives and they all wish to be young again. They also hope having their wisdom from over the years, will allow them not to make the same mistakes that resulted in their unhappiness. Since they were so desperate, they joined a unpromising experiment, which turned out to be an illusion. Once the old friends started hallucinating their youth, they began to act out as they would have a decade prior. As well as forgetting all of their insight, as the narrator explains, “The fresh gloss of the soul, so early lost, and without which the worlds successive scenes had been but a gallery of faded pictures, again threw its enchantment over all prospects”(6). Clearly god did not intend the experiment subjects to be given a second chance and painfully strips them of their young age once again, “The delirium which it created had effervesced away. Yes! they were old again. With a shuddering impulse, that showed her a woman still, the...
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