The short story, “Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment” by Nathaniel Hawthorne, is a story about an old scientist who invites his four friends over to try an experiment. He gives them a drink that he says is from the Fountain of Youth, and they all become young, but only for a few brief moments. Each of the characters represents a basic human fault or flaw. Widow Wycherly represents vanity; Colonel Killigrew represents indulgence; Mr. Gascoigne represents corruption, and Mr. Medbourne represents greed.
Widow Wycherely is very representative of vanity. We are told that in her prime, she was a great beauty. When she drinks the water, “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 before” (58).
Colonel Killigrew is representative of indulgence, which was his downfall. When he was a young man, he “had wasted his best years, and his health and substance, in the pursuit of sinful pleasures” (51).
Mr. Gascoigne was a great politician, but was scarred by corruption. He is called “a man of evil fame, or at least had been so, till time had buried him from the knowledge of the present generation” (52).
Lastly, Mr. Medbourne is a very greedy man who is obsessed with money. He is show to be greedy, when, after drinking the water, he became “involved in a calculation of dollars and cents, which was strangely intermingled a project for supplying the East Indies with ice, by harnessing a team of whales to the polar icebergs” (58).
Each of the characters is representative of a human trait that they revert to when they become young. Most people don’t learn from their mistakes that occurred in their youth. Instead, they continue doing what they have done their entire life. People need to learn from their mistakes.
Please join StudyMode to read the full document