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DR. HEIDEGGER’S EXPERIMENT Characters (See Shmoop.com for more info.)

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Presentation on theme: "DR. HEIDEGGER’S EXPERIMENT Characters (See Shmoop.com for more info.)"— Presentation transcript:

1 DR. HEIDEGGER’S EXPERIMENT Characters (See Shmoop.com for more info.)

2 ALLEGORY  In what ways is “Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment” an allegory? Provide at least two examples from the story that show that Hawthorne’s story is allegorical. Support you ideas with details from the selection.

3 SAMPLE ANSWER  “Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment” is an allegory because it is a literary work in which the characters, setting, and events stand for abstract ideas and moral qualities. Each of the character is a two-dimensional representation of a vice. For example, the Widow Wycherly stands for vanity, Colonel Killigrew stands for sinful pleasure, and Mr. Gascoigne represents a crooked politician. The experiment stands for a second chance at life, which the characters waste.

4 ALLEGORY  An allegory is a literary work in which characters, settings, and events stand for abstract ideas or moral qualities.

5 PREPOSITION OR ADVERB  1. I was at home.  2. Above, buzzards circled lazily.  3. Above the dry riverbed, buzzards circled lazily.  4. Marge climbed down the ladder.

6 DR. HEIDEGGER  Dr. Heidegger is a cryptic fellow – but that's part of his charm. For starters, we don't know if he's a dear old doctor or a seriously cynical scientist playing the experimentalist on his friends at their expense. We make a decent argument for each one under "Character Roles," but the short version is that, on the one hand, he's the wise protagonist who contrasts with his foolish guests, while, on the other hand, he's got a dark history (skeletons in the closet, both literal and figurative, a dead fiancée, lots of dead patients) with no justification or explanation. This ambiguity is par for the course, however – nearly all of "Dr. Heidegger's Experiment" is open to interpretation.

7 CHARACTERS  Each of the four guests Heidegger invites over is a sort of riff on the same basic theme. They all squandered their good fortune and lost everything through their youthful foolishness. Given the chance for a classic do-over, they make the same mistakes again. Each of them does the same thing, the only difference being their particular vice of choice.

8 WIDOW WYCHERLY  She was once beautiful, but ruined her reputation – probably by enticing a lot of men a little too eagerly. After drinking the elixir, the Widow once again becomes vain, obsesses over her looks, and then encourages the three men to fight over her, just as she did when she was younger.

9 MR. MEDBOURNE  Like the Widow, has fallen from his heyday on account of his foolishness. In this case, the vice we're looking at is greed. Mr. Medbourne was a successful businessman, but in his desire to make more and more money, he lost everything on risky investments (that's what the narrator means by "speculation"). When he gets the opportunity to experience youth a second time, Mr. Medbourne makes the same two mistakes he did the first time around: he obsesses over money, and he chases the Widow Wycherly. Tisk, tisk, Hawthorne would say.

10 COLONEL KILLIGREW  We’re dealing with a pleasure-seeker. Hawthorne, being Puritan and all, doesn't exactly outline on what "pleasures" Killigrew squandered his youth, but we're going to go out on a limb here and guess something along the lines of alcohol and women. It's hardly surprising, then, that this is what Killigrew returns to when he grows young again.

11 MR. GASCOIGNE  Mr. Gascoigne is guilty of being power-hungry. He was at one point "a ruined politician, a man of evil fame," but is now so old that no one even remembers who he is anymore (1). Like all of Heidegger's other guests, Gascoigne is back to his bad ways the moment he feels that youthful spring in his step. The narrator even adds that he can't be sure if the politics on Mr. Gascoigne's mind belong "to the past, present, or future […] since the same ideas and phrases have been in vogue these fifty years" (28). Not only has Mr. Gascoigne failed to change his ways, but the world around him is similarly stagnated in vice.

12 1.Explain how all of the characters are alike in the beginning of the story? 2.What item is the strangest in the study? 3.If each of the four guest were named for their weaknesses, what would their names be?


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