ENGLISH LITERATURE- PROSE: DR HEIDEGGER’S EXPERIMENT
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s story “Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment” is a study on the frailties of humanity and the mistakes that the youth is bound to make, even backed by the experience and maturity of a lifetime. It is a dark comedy, as it makes one cynical, as well as meditative. The comedy is not pure but is interpreted with black humour, showing the weakness of mankind. In this story Dr. Heidegger is not just a doctor or a magician, but also a psychologist. He is an old, eccentric scientist. He invited four of his friends – Mr. Medbourne, a rich merchant, Colonel Killigrew, a pursuer of pleasures, Mr. Gascoigne, a ruined politician and Widow Wycherly, once a beautiful woman. The three men loved her once upon a time. Dr. Heidegger and his friends were in his study , and old fashioned room having many book cases, an Oaken chest, a skeleton, a gilt (covered with gold) mirror. It was rumoured that the spirits of his dead patients lived in this study. It was a summer afternoon. There were four champagne glasses on the table and five old people around it. Dr. Heidegger took out a rose, which was nearly half a century old. He asked his friends if they thought that the flower could ever bloom again. None of them thought it was possible. He threw the faded rose into a vase which contained water. The crushed and dried petals stirred and assumed life in the form of a crimson colour. The stalk became green and the flower looked fresh. The doctor then spoke to them about the ‘Fountain of Youth’ situated in Florida. The doctor asked his friends to drink the water, so they would become young again. As he poured the liquid into the champagne glasses, little bubbles ascended from the depths of the glasses. The liquor diffused a pleasant perfume and the four friends were inclined to have it at once. The doctor warned his friends about the perils of becoming young again. They might fall prey to their vices. He himself was not...
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