Use Of The Mirror In Dr. Heidegger's Experiment

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We as a society tend to forgo the lessons of our ancestors shortcomings in favour of repeating them in the vain hope that things will be different in our time. In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment”, man’s ability to stray from his evils are put into question. Hawthorne uses the mirror in Dr. Heidegger’s study to symbolizes a conflict Heidegger lives through in recognizing a need for a haunted past. While also drawing parallels to the guests own vices of whose penalties they fail to remember and learn from.
Hawthorne uses the setting of Heidegger’s study as a tool of character development that fleshes out the doctor before any of the main plot points begin. The mirror in particular serves as a lense into the mysterious past of Dr. Heidegger and reveals to the reader a history of a failed practitioner who seemingly failed to aid in the healing of a number of patients. The doctor in his life had let down many who relied on him and “the spirits of ... the doctor’s deceased patients [who] dwelt within it’s verge, … would stare him in the face whenever he looked thitherward.” Haidegger in fact is haunted by his
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Heidegger’s Experiment” is used as a device for symbolically representing the need for people to remember their mistakes as well as is used to parallel and contrast the guests view on second chances with Heidegger’s. While the generational renewal of society’s old is a natural instrument of change it’s effects are quickly replaced by each new generations inability to learn from previous mistake. The human race repeats war’s, corruption, and intolerance every century without pause as time fails to remedy the faults of the old and serves only to delay the eventual consequence of sinful desire. Though a very pessimistic view Hawthorne leaves a note of hope in the character Heidegger, as he comforts himself in the knowledge that through the upkeep of his history he may stray from the path of evil that so often leads many

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