Mistakes in Dr. Heidegger's Experiment by Nathaniel Hawthorne

866 WordsJul 8, 20184 Pages
In his short story "Dr. Heidegger's Experiment", Nathaniel Hawthorne makes a point to grant all of the characters varying human vices to try and instill in the reader a lesson about learning from their mistakes. When the reader is first introduced to Dr. Heidegger and his guests, the author gives some background on all of the characters. It becomes clear that Mr. Medbourne is known for his love of money, Widow Wycherly for her pride, Colonel Killigrew for lusting after sinful pleasures, and Mr. Gascoigne for his abuse of power and hypocrisy. From what is shown, all of the characters possess the trait of greed. When given the chance to return to their youth, they repeat the same mistakes. The first guest that the reader is introduced to in…show more content…
The fact that the men are fighting over her helps to affirm her beauty. She does nothing to stop the fight because she enjoys the fact that they all want her affection. In the short story, Colonel Killigrew portrays characteristics of both lust and gluttony. Lust is known as the inordinate desire for sexual pleasure while gluttony is an inordinate desire for food and drink. Both characteristics pertain to the pursuit of sinful pleasures and correlate with greed.According to Hawthorne, “Colonel Killigrew had wasted his best years and his health and substance in the pursuit of sinful pleasures, which had given birth to a brood of pains, such as the gout, and diverse other torments of the body.” (Heidegger 502). His title of colonel suggests that he was previously a high ranking and very influential man in the military. Unfortunately because of his poor dietary habits, he was reduced to a physical wreck. Colonel Killigrew is also shown to be terribly materialistic. He spent his youth questing for rich and unnecessary goods that he really didn’t need and he always wanted more. As soon as he drank from the fountain of youth he reverts back to his old ways. The narrator described it by stating “He sings drinking songs, clanging the side of his glass in accompaniment, and keeps his eye on the newly young Widow Wycherly. (Constantakis 42). This quote is accurately depicts his youth and displays his gluttony. He is the first of
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