Dr. Heidegger's Experiment by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Summary: Dr. Heidegger has acquired some water from the fountain of youth and has decided he will give it to four old people and watch how they react to it in his own personal experiment.


Dr. Heidegger - doctor that is a bit eccentric, some believe he even has a book that is magical

Mr. Medbourne - wealthy merchant that lost everything speculating

Colonel Killigrew - wasted his youthful years on "sinful pleasures"

Mr. Gascoigne - a politician that was infamous but now is forgotten

Widow Wycherly - was beautiful in the past, now a recluse because the town does not like her ( resulted from "Scandalous stories")

Section One:

  • All four characters that Dr. Heidegger invited "wasted" their youth in some way
  • The three men like Widow Wycherly in the past
  • Dr. Heidegger is a bit different; he has a mirror that shows truths about a person ( he saw patients he lost); he has a book of magic
  • Dr. Heidegger pulls a rose out of the "magic book", he puts it in a vase and shows the 4 old people how it comes back to life; he says the water is from the fountain of youth
  • Dr. Heidegger says he will do an experiment with the four people, he does not want to get young because growing old was difficult
  • Dr. Heidegger ask the 4 old people to remember what they(the 4 old people) have learned in growing old, and to be role models to other youth
  • The four drink, become younger; they ask for more to become younger yet; upon becoming younger the second time each begins to do actions of their youth;
  • Colonel Killigrew remarks on Widow Wycherly's looks; Widow Wycherly goes to look at the mirror is fixated on it; Mr. Gascoigne starts to talk about politics; Mr. Medbourne begins to think of ways to make money
  • Each of the four is so happy with the results they ask for more of the fountain of youth water to drink; They are now in their prime
  • Each of the four begin to mock old age; then the three men start to be competitive over the Widow when she wants to dance; none of them notice the mirror reflecting them as being old
  • The three men fight and break the vase, a butterfy that was about to die is in the water and becomes young; the Doctor settles them down
  • The rose starts to fade and becomes whithered again; the butterfly dies; the four become old again
  • Dr. Heidegger states he would not drink from the fountain even if it was "gushed at my very doorstep" even if its effects lasted for "years instead of moments"
  • The four go to the fountain of youth and drink from it morning, noon, and night

Other Notes:

  • The Doctor convinces the old people to do the experiment by showing the flower come back to life; each of the four people the doctor has invited seems devoid of life because of the way they lived it in the past

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