"Dr Heidegger's Experiment"
Nathaniel Hawthorne was an American writer in the first half of the 19th century, famous for his novel The Scarlet Letter and his numerous short stories.

"Dr. Heidegger's Experiment" is the story of an eccentric doctor who gives four of his friends an "elixir" from the Fountain of Youth and observes their behavior as they grow "young" again. Like many of Hawthorne's other tales, the story is highly moralistic and even Puritan in its values. Hawthorne is often cited as a member of the so-called "Dark-Romanticism" genre, in which the supposed inherent evil of mankind is held up to scrutiny.

Growing up is about making mistakes and, hopefully, learning from them. Whether those mistakes are silly or serious, we have to make them. The idea is that, once we're old, we've learned our lesson.

Hawthorne challenges the idea that mistakes are made because we don't know any better. Instead, he seems to say that young people make mistakes simply because they are young.

I found myself standing in for the regular English teacher one day and opted to read this story aloud to a class full of high school Juniors. Many (but not all) didn't really seem to like the story much. They found it boring. I didn't. I'd never heard of it until that day. Unlike them found it compelling. Perhaps its message is wasted on the young. What do YOU think?

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31 minutes

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