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Dr. Heidegger's Experiment

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Submitted By nrossi1281
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In "Dr. Heidegger's Experiment", written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Dr. Heidegger invited four of his elderly friends to his eerie study and asked them to help him in an experiment. He explained the experiment with an old, withered rose which he took from his magic black folio.
He took the rose which he claimed was given to him fity five years ago by his now deceased fiance, and dropped it into a vase with water from the fountain of youth. His guests watched the rose turn back into a freshly-bloomed flower. Water from the fountain is served to his guests to go back to their days of youth.
Some believe the moments that the elderly guests spent reliving their youth was real. The choice of words and imagery prove otherwise, however, and while some use the rose to defend that it was real, it could have been magic. The author's choice of words such as "seem" show that the transformation was only metaphorical and not physical. For example, the author writes, "even while the draught was passing down their throats, it seemed to have wrought a change on their whole systems." and "They stood still and shivered; for it seemed as if gray Time were calling them back from their sunny youth, far down into the chill and darksome vale of years".
The author also shows doubt himself: "Was it a delusion?" The imagery the author uses also helps us to conclude that the transformation was not real. The imagery that the author gives us shows that the "water" could have actually been alcohol. The water that is served in champagne glasses is described as bubbly and diffusing a "pleasant perfume".
The author also later states that the water almost immediately effected the guests "not unlike what might have been produced by a glass of generous wine". While each of the guests started demanding more water and seemed to appear more lively, the doctor's tall mirror showed reality, reflecting their old and gray figures. Those that defend that the transformation was real use the rose that appeared to transform as an example. However, it is not certain that the rose transformation was real. The guests, who hadn't been served the bubbly water, were skeptical and believed that the rose that came from the magic book could be an illusion.
In an eerie room like the doctor's, it would not be surprising to see sorcery or magic purposes, and it is possible that the rose was one of them. The choice or words such as "seem", the author's rhetorical questions, the imagery that hinted that the water from the fountain of youth could have actually been alcohol and the reflection of reality on the tall mirror supports the case that the transformation that the author describes did not alter their bodies.
Although the rose seems to turn back into freshly-bloomed, the doctor could have easily made it appear so with a magic trick, as the guests suspected.…...

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