Dr. Heidegger`s Experiment

“Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment”
Nathaniel Hawthorne
Hawthorne as a Late Romantic Writer
• Hawthorne is not the typical Romantic writer
• In fact, some argue that his writing marks the
beginning of a turn from Romanticism
• Rather than examining human possibilities,
Hawthorn examined human limitations
• Hawthorne (like all the Romanticists)
focused on the supernatural
mysteries and on individuality
• The mysteries of the human heart and
the questions of human evil are the
main subjects of Hawthorne’s work
“Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment” as an
• Allegory: An allegory is a work of
literature in which characters or objects
stand for certain abstract qualities, such as
Hope, or Faith.
• In allegories, characters are
representations of abstract human
What could the following characters
allegorically represent?
Mr. Medbourne?
Mr. Gascoigne?
Colonel Killigrew?
Widow Wycherly?
• Using these allegorical figures, what
does Hawthorne propose about the
limitations of human beings at the
end of the story?
• In other words, how would you define
the theme of this story?
• (The universal message or underlying
idea in a literary work)
• In Hawthorne’s short story “Dr.
Heidegger’s Experiment”, he uses
allegorical representations of human traits
in order to convey the theme that wisdom
and judgment do not necessarily come
with old age.
• When we begin to read Hawthorne’s next short
story, “The Minister’s Black Veil” (page 256) ask
yourself the following questions when reading:
• How is “The Minister’s Black Veil” an example of
Romantic Literature?
• How is this story similar to an allegory? How is
it different?
• Also, watch out for symbolism!

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