Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Allan Poe's Use of Guilt in their Work

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"Whatever guilt is perpetrated by some evil prompting, is grievous to the author of the crime. This is the first punishment of guilt that no one who is guilty is acquitted at the judgment seat of his own conscience." - Decimus Junius Juvenal 'Satires' (XIII, 1)

Throughout history, the effects of guilt on society have often prompted writers to express their emotions, beliefs, and ways they approach life through their literary works. While some authors use the concept of guilt to express their feelings and attract readers, other authors, like Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Allan Poe, use the convention of guilt to teach the society a lesson. Like in Hawthorne?s ?Dr. Heidegger?s Experiment? and Poe?s ?The Masque of Red Death?, both authors
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(Hawthorne 6). However despite his warning, his friends did not change their old habits when they drank the water. Instead, when his friends turn young again, they initiate doing the same mistakes that they made in the past. At the end, when his friends are back to old adults, they are even guiltier than before because they committed the same mistakes, regrets, and things that they are guilty of in the past. Due to his friends? lack of initiation to change, Heidegger chose not to drink the water because it will further add up to his guilty conscience. He is the only one, out of all the participants, that learns to appreciate the advantage of age and comprehends the knowledge that came from age and experience. ??For my own part, having had much trouble in growing old, I am in no hurry to grow young again...? (Hawthorne 5). Heidegger sees the effects of the water as disheartening because it brings about more guilt and regrets than before. He rather lives his life out the way nature means it to be than to drink the water and repeat past mistakes. Hawthorne uses this lack of initiation concept to tell his lesson that people, no matter how different or how young they are, must face their moral guilt all the time. They cannot forget their guilt from the past, and if they try to turn away from their guilt, as shown in this story,

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