Dr. Heidegger's Experiment
by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Dr. Heidegger's Experiment Old Age Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Paragraph)
"For my own part, having had much trouble in growing old, I am in no hurry to grow young again." (17)
Heidegger, like his guests, has suffered in his youth – remember the death of his fiancée. Unlike the four guests, however, Heidegger knows that to become young again would be to make the same mistakes a second time. He has no desire to do this.
"Before you drink, my respectable old friends,'' said he, "it would be well that, with the experience of a lifetime to direct you, you should draw up a few general rules for your guidance, in passing a second time through the perils of youth. Think what a sin and shame it would be, if, with your peculiar advantages, you should not become patterns of virtue and wisdom to all the young people of the age!'' (19)
This is our second tip-off as to the real nature of Dr. Heidegger's experiment, and his real motives in conducting it. The Doctor is concerned with the folly and behavior of youth, not in the medicinal properties of the water from the fountain of youth.
The doctor's four venerable friends made him no answer, except by a feeble and tremulous laugh; so very ridiculous was the idea that, knowing how closely repentance treads behind the steps of error, they should ever go astray again. (20)
This is the second time the narrator has used the word "venerable" to describe Heidegger's four guests (the first time is in the story's opening line). We have to think that the narrator is using the word ironically – especially given that he earlier referred to the four guests as "foul."