Dr. Heidegger's Experiment Romanticism

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During the eighteen-hundreds, a new literary movement began to emerge, known as “Romanticism”. This radical movement emphasized imagination and emotion. One of the most prodigious romantic authors of his time, Nathaniel Hawthorne, explored these new-founded themes in several of his short stories such as “Young Goodman Brown”, “Rappaccini’s Daughter”, and “Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment”. Using his own unique and specific themes, Hawthorne develops the larger romantic themes of focus on the self and the individual, a profound love of nature, and a fascination with the supernatural, the mysterious, and the gothic within many of his short stories. In Hawthorne’s work, “Young Goodman Brown”, Hawthorne exhibits the romantic theme of focus on the individual…show more content…
Heidegger’s Experiment”, develops his specific theme of the impossibility of earthly perfection while also exhibiting the larger romantic theme of fascination with the supernatural and mysterious. In the story, the peculiar old man conducts a strange experiment on a group of old friends. Hawthorne goes into detail to explain the supernatural things in his study, such as the “oaken closet… within which appeared a skeleton” and :a ponderous… book of magic” (DHE pg. 1). Throughout the story, strange occurrences happen, such as a flower that “[revives] from a deathlike slumber” (DHE pg. 2). All these storytelling elements are a sharp contrast to the writings of the past, which were all very literal, or at least representing something that was plausible. This deviation is a representation of the romantic theme of fascination with the supernatural and mysterious. Within this setting, and given the freedom that comes with supernaturality, Hawthorne creates his own theme of the impossibility of earthly perfection. Heidegger’s friends, who all represent a vice, have varying pasts, such as “a ruined politician”, “a woman of… scandalous stories”, a “[waster] of years”, and a “frantic [speculator]” (DHE pg. 1). When Heidegger gives them the chance to “[pass] a second time through the perils of youth”, they squander it and go back to their old ways. This revelation supports Hawthorne’s theme that earthly perfection is impossible. Without change,…show more content…
To convey this larger theme, Hawthorne uses the classic setting of a “garden… peopled with plants and herbs” (RD pg. 1). Hawthorne links this setting of nature to the theme that people are both good and evil. The plants in the garden are “beautiful… with the lustre and richness of a gem” (RD pg. 1), however, they are poisonous. Hawthorne uses the plants to represent Beatrice, who has “richness of taste as the most splendid of flowers” (RD pg. 2). Much like the plants, Beatrice is as “poisonous as she is beautiful” (RD pg. 4). This link is representative of how she is kind on the inside, but outwardly, she has an evil aspect. Although Beatrice herself is not evil, the poison is a representation of how she has the potential to be evil, as does every other

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