Human Greed In Heidegger's Experiment Essay

1063 words - 5 pages

Nathaniel Hawthorne's short story, "Dr. Heidegger's Experiment," contains much symbolism pertaining to the truths about life and humans' inherently evil aspects. Such characteristics are found in the personalities of the characters, as well as the various objects portrayed in the short story. Hawthorne also uses elements of imagery and allegories to depict the forbiddances and limitations of attempting to go back in time.
Each of the five characters in “Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment” exhibit specific human idiosyncrasies. Mr. Medbourne is a man of greed and extravagance. His young, merchant days boasted of great prosperity. However, this did not last for very long, since he wasted the money ...view middle of the document...

” Then, immediately after switching from alluring lines to risky things, he makes another about-face and “spoke in measured accents, and a deeply deferential tone, as if a royal ear were listening to his well-turned periods.” Gascoigne is a man who cannot always be trusted, since he always seems to go behind the backs of other people, of which his infamous background hints at.
Widow Wycherly is an attention-seeking woman full of vanity. All she cares about is her youthful appearance and the attention she receives from other men. Hawthorne mentions that Wycherly "was a great beauty in her day." Not only this, but it is found out that she has been a target for "scandalous stories," which means people have been quite jealous of her beauty and level of attraction. When Wycherly turns young, and she finds out about her youthful appearance, she begins to act like a narcissist, as “she stood before the mirror courtesying and simpering to her own image, and greeting it as the friend whom she loved better than all the world beside.” Even when the other three men, who take part in the experiment with her, start to all fight for her affection, she does not do anything to stop their advances. She allows them to continue, meaning she longs for the attention she gets from others with her young demeanor.
Dr. Heidegger is full of secrets and is slightly guilt-ridden. His fiancé has died due to one of his own prescriptions, an event that had a lasting effect on the poor man. However, he continues to experiment with other things. Heidegger is always kept in secrecy, as if he has many things to hide. The appearance of his study and the strange objects he owns tie in with his own strangeness.
Now, as the three male friends of Dr. Heidegger fight over Widow Wycherly, the countenances of all four are reflected in the tall mirror in Dr. Heidegger's dim, old-fashioned study. However, instead of the three young men and woman shown on the shiny surface of the mirror, it showed "three old, gray, withered grandsires, ridiculously contending for the...

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