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Dr. Heidegger’s experiment is a story that begins with the old doctor requesting four elderly friends over to his somewhat unnatural study. The four friends include Mr. Medbourne, Colonel Killigrew, Widow Wycherly, and Mr. Gascoigne. The four elderly friends have lost everything they had in their prime time each of them having squandered their own wealth (money, beauty, youth, and power). In their young years, the three men used to struggle over the concentration of the Widow Wycherly. The basis of Heidegger’s spine-chilling study contains several things including a bust of Hippocrates that the doctor consults from time to time. In addition, he has a skeleton in a closet, a magic black book, and a mirror that supposedly has the countenances of the doctor’s dead patients. On arrival, the doctor gives the guests four empty champagne glasses and a highly wrought vase full of clear, bubbling liquid. In an effort to prove his prowess in what he does, Heidegger drops a withered rose flower in the vase and shows his guests how it changes to an invigorated to a fresh- blooming flower.
Most stories contain some elements of fiction and Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment is not any different. The story contains elements of fiction under the plot and setting and theme of the story. This study paper seeks to explore the fiction element of themes in the story and explain the meanings behind the themes. Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment has several themes and most of them have elements of fiction in the tale. The major theme in the tale is foolishness and folly as depicted by the four elderly friends who visit Dr. Heidegger. The foundation of the story is to a certain extent pessimistic one concerning the view of human nature. From the story, we get that, for the better time of people’s lives, they exhibit foolishness and more so they do not learn from their mistakes. The story depicts human beings as largely petty creatures who do not expect anyone to change for the better. The fiction perspective of this theme is the way the four elderly people squandered all their wealth in their youth and are now living in regrets of their past lives. The story associates foolishness with age and consider the youth phase of life the foolish part. The fiction characteristic of losing their all possessions makes the four elderly people look foolish and folly. The four elderly guests are two- dimensional caricatures who are not fully developed which is a fictions aspect. In addition, the fiction element of the theme of foolishness seems to link the fates of the elderly guests to misfortune that may not be the case.
Another notable theme in the story with a fictions element is that of old age. The author relates the issue of age and behavior and goes ahead to explain the difference between classifying age physically and emotionally or mentally. From the one aspect of the story, the author seems to believe that age is a state of the mind, and one is as young as he, or she thinks. When Heidegger offers the elderly guests with water from the fountain, he tells the guests that it has the capacity of making them young again. Already with this notion, the guests drink the water and automatically deem themselves as young and they once again fight for the widow’s attention. The moral side of the story presents the youth connecting with folly, but, gives no optimism for emancipation in old age either. The fiction in this theme is the relation of old age with foolishness and yet in reality old age is associated with wisdom. Wise men are usually the elderly people in the society and, therefore, the author’s imaginary tale contradicts the usual norms of old age (Hawthorne 76).
There is the theme of supernatural powers in Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment tale. Heidegger possesses paraphernalia that have supernatural powers and he claim that the water from the fountain can make the old people young again. In the real sense, this is not a possible doing and no man or apparatus under the earth can transform people’s age. This theme is mainly fiction because supernatural tendencies only work depending on the person’s mind and reasoning. The supernatural aspect is a psychological doing as we see the old people transform to being young after drinking the liquid. The whole ordeal at DR. Heidegger’s place is a debate between over-the-top showmanship versus superstitious conviction.
The fiction in the theme creates a mood of doubt and makes the reader question the nature of reality. The readers are torn between believing the supernatural powers and the reality of life in the aspect of transformation in life. The notion of transformation is fiction as the story mainly focuses on the physical transformation rather than mental aspect. Pessimistically the tale ends with a clarification that it is impossible for human transformation to take place whether physically or mentally. The study of elements of fiction in themes of the tale offers a greater understanding of the story. Fictions in the themes of Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment story help in expressing the message of the story to the readers. It is evident that elements of fiction in a story are helpful in conveying the themes and messages of the author to the readers.