“Dr Heidegger’s Experiment”An eccentric aging physician, Dr. Heidegger, calls together his oldfriends and contemporaries to test his waters of the “fountain ofyouth.” As the doctor himself sits by to enjoy the show, each of hisfour aged friends eagerly quaffs more and more of the magic potion,each draught further carrying them backwards into their shared youth.Having grown young, smooth-skinned and agile again, the three men beginto fight for the favors of the fourth compatriot now restored to herformer beauty.
In the heat of the fracas, they begin to grow tired andwithin minutes the effect of the “waters” has worn away. Theparticipants in the brief respite from old age are devastated by thetransience of the experience. Despite Heidegger’s warning that he haslearned to appreciate the advantage of age by watching the four of themmake themselves fools, they learned no such lesson and resolve to makea pilgrimage to Florida to seek the Fountain.”The Birthmark”A devoted scientist, in a brief step from his laboratory pursuits,marries a beautiful woman with a single physical flaw: a birthmark onher face.
Aylmer becomes obsessed with the imperfection and needs toremove it, to be happy with his wife. The tale evolves around hisprogressive frenzy to use his scientific skills to render his brideperfect and the faith of his submissive wife that the union can surviveonly if he accomplishes his goal. The author tells us that Aylmer “haddevoted himself, however, too unreservedly to scientific studies.
..”and, in the secrecy of his laboratory he prepares the potion forGeorgiana that results in the disappearance of the birthmark and thedeath of Aylmer’s experimental subject.Comparison”Dr.
Heidegger’s Experiment” and “The Birthmark” can be compared inmany aspects. Nathaniel Hawthorne used many of the same writingtechniques in both stories. Both pieces share two common reoccuringthemes. Also, the symbols in the story have like meanings. In both”Dr.
Heidegger’s Experiment” and “The Birthmark”, Hawthorne uses thesame writing style. In both stories Nathaniel Hawthorne writes as arealist, as opposed to a romancer. In “Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment”Hawthorne writes about an actual event in history, Ponce de Leon’ssearch for the Fountain of Youth on the Florida Peninsula. It does notmatter if the Fountain of Youth exists or not it is a “real” legend.
“Dr Heidegger’s Experiment” is a situation that could have takenplace. It is not a fantasy. “The Birthmark” is also a piece thatcould have happened. A beautiful woman could certainly be born with adisturbing birthmark on her face. In “The Birthmark” Hawthorne writesabout a real situation with real characters.
Again in both “DrHeidegger’s Experiment” and “The Birthmark”, Hawthorne uses a veryvague title. For the purpose of “Dr Heidegger’s Experiment”, Hawthornewants you to ponder on what kind of experiment Heidegger wasconducting, psychological or p! hysical. In the case of “TheBirthmark”, Hawthorne wants you to think if the birthmark was whatmade the main character, Aylmer, kills his wife or if it went beyondjust that physical marking.
Furthermore, in the pair of storiesHawthorne uses several of the same literary devices, for instance,symbolism. In “Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment”Along with the same writing techniques, Nathaniel Hawthorne also usedtwo of the same themes in the stories. Hawthorne uses reoccurringthemes of his writing in many of his stories. In both “Dr. Heidegger’sExperiment” and “The Birthmark” Hawthorne uses, the impossibility ofearthly perfection moreover the loss of innocence.
In “Dr. Heidegger’sExperiment” the doctor’s four friends are all in search of earthlyperfection. This is why they choose to drink the water from theFountain of Youth, to become forever young. The friends are made youngagain by the water, but their youth soon wears away. If it hadremained for ever they would have achieved earthly perfection, and thatis impossible. In “The Birthmark”, Georgiana is almost a model ofearthly perfection except for that horrid birthmark.
Aylmer believesthat Georgiana can be that model of perfection and he can get rid ofthe birthmark. He is successful in getting rid of Georgiana’sbirthmark and she is perfect, b! ut dead. Hawthorne is saying thatshe could not live and be perfect, hence the impossibility of earthlyperfection. In “Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment” the theme of the loss ofinnocence is loosely addressed. Dr. Heidegger says: “Think what a sinand shame it would be, if, with your peculiar advantages, you shouldnot become patterns of virtue and wisdom to all the young people of theage!” Heidegger tells his friends that they have already lost theirinnocence and gained wisdom in their old age, and what a thing it wouldbe if they could have that wisdom and be youthful at the same time.
Yet, when the friends return to their youth the friends are innocent,naive, and even foolish beings. In “The Birthmark” Georgiana iscompletely innocent with her birthmark, which represents herinnocence. When Aylmer removes the birthmark, not only has herinnocence been taken but also her life.Similarly as Hawthorne used like writing techniques and themes in both”Dr.
Heidegger’s Experiment” and “The Birthmark”, he also used symbolsto represent the same ideas. In “Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment” Hawthorneuses Dr Heidegger’s friends to represent flawed beings. Their flaw istheir age. In “The Birthmark”, Hawthorne uses the birthmark tosymbolize a flaw on a perfect being as well. In this case it isGeorgiana. In both stories that was an object that represented the”right” thing to do.
In the case of “Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment” thesymbol of write and wrong was the near dead butterfly who was broughtback to life by the spilt water of youth. The butterfly istraditionally a symbol of metamorphosis, and it makes you wonder is ifis right to change the natural metamorphic of a person’s life. In “TheBirthmark”, Aminidad, Aylmer’s assistant symbolizes the right choice.He is aware that the potion that will remove Georgiana’s birthmark willalso kill her. Amini! dad does not speak to Aylmer about this becausehe “has no right” being only Aylmer’s assistant.
The last of thesymbols that connect “Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment” and “The Birthmark”are the Water of Youth and Aylmer’s potion. In “Dr. Heidegger’sExperiment” the water from the Fountain of Youth symbolizes adisturbance of nature.
It is natural for a person to age and thepotion defies nature’s law if age. In “The Birthmark” the potion alsosymbolizes a disturbance of natural. Georgiana’s birthmark wasnatural, and when Aylmer removed it with the potion, nature was againdefied.Nathaniel Hawthorne’s two writings, “Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment” and”The Birthmark” contain many parallels.
These, like other Hawthornestories share many of the same themes and morals. Hawthorne had his ownobsessions that included a horrified fascination with “coldphilosophy.” He approached the romantic notion of the ability ofscience to destroy nature as fictive “horror stories” of biologicalresearch out of control.
He embodied this concern in his severalcharacterizations of scientists, who were also physicians, working inisolation in their laboratories to gain intellectual control over themysteries of nature. Although the notion of amoral, or immoral,experimentation is dated in these period pieces, the concerns remainethical problems in the modern world of medicine.