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Questions

Dr. Heidegger's Experiment Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.

  1. Is there a "moral" to this story? If so, what is it?
  2. What is the point of the first-person narration here (as opposed to third-person)?
  3. Do you take the narrator to be Hawthorne, or some fictional character?
  4. Compare "Dr. Heidegger's Experiment" to some of Edgar Allan Poe's stories of "psychological terror," such as "William Wilson." How does Hawthorne's "Dark Romanticism" (see "Genre") differ from Poe's?
  5. Is "Dr. Heidegger's Experiment" meant to be funny at all? Where do you see humor in this text, and what is the effect of such humor on your reading of the story?
  6. Is Dr. Heidegger a likeable character? A sinister one? As a reader, do you relate more to him or to his guests?
  7. You've heard us argue both sides, but what's your final answer – is the water in the vase really from the Fountain of Youth, or does Dr. Heidegger just get his guests drunk?

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