Short Stories - Literary Devises

Title: Dr. Heidegger's Experiment

Point of View: 3rd person, Narrator

Protagonist: Dr. Heidegger

What type of character is the Protagonist?
Dr. Heidegger is a curious man, who is ready to abide to the wishes of his subjects just to finish an experiment. During the story,
Dr. Heidegger is all too happy to keep on pouring the extremely valuable Fountain of Youth's water for his four friends, just to see what would happen.

Antagonist: Fountain of Youth's water

Describe the setting
The story takes place entirely in Dr. Heidegger's study, which was quite a strange place. A dim, old-fashioned chamber, the study was cobwebbed and dusty, and held innumerable books. A bronze bust of Hippocrates stood over the central bookcase. The mood is mysterious and suspenseful, because the reader wants to find out what happened when the four old friends of Dr. Hiedegger drank the water from the Fountain.

Type of Conflict: Man vs. Self, Man vs. Man

Describe the main conflict:
The Fountain of Youth's water is strived for by old people such as Dr. Heidegger's old friends. After drinking the water, they resumed their old conflict from years ago, and fought over the Widow Wycherly, just like they had before. This proves that you shouldn't wish for something, because you might just get it.

Describe the Climax of the Story:
The highest point of the story occurs when the four friends of Dr. Heidegger have taken multiple draughts of the Fountain of Youth and are fighting over the Widow Wycherly, just as they had all those years ago.

How does the Protagonist change over the course of the story?
Dr. Hiedegger realizes that the Fountain of Youth's water does not maintain youth, but rather only maintains it for a short time. After the effect ends, the taker feels ever more longing for youth.

Describe the relationship between the title and the theme.
Dr. Hiedegger's experiment was to find out what the effects of the water from the Fountain of Youth had on humans. So then, with the theme being hopeful, one can conclude that the experiment will benefit mankind. Of course, in the story, it actually hinders mankind.

How does the main conflict help to illustrate the theme?
The conflict between Man vs. Self and Man vs. Man illustrates the theme through the experiment. Everybody's hoping that the experiment will help people, and this perfectly portrays the theme.

How does the climax help to illustrate the theme?
The climax of the story has all of the friends of Dr. Hiedegger jumping around, admiring themselves, and dancing. Now, the reader's hopefulness has borne fruit, and given the four friends relief from the weight of the years that were balancing precariously on their shoulders.

Give examples of each of the following literary terms in the story (use quotes):

Simile: "...a strange deception..." Pg 166

Metaphor: "...as dry and fragile as when the doctor had first thrown it into the vase." Pg. 166

Personification: "...sunshine...fell directly across this vase.." Pg 160

Symbol: The skeleton in the closet is a symbol of death coming in unexpected places.

Foreshadowing (give both elements): Again, the skeleton in the closet is an ill omen...bad things will probably happen with a skeleton hanging around.

Irony: It's ironic that the four friends turned back to normal so soon. If they had remained young forever, the story would have had a weak ending. But by turning them back, the author both added a twist and made the story's ending strong, as well as placing some irony into play.

Imagery: "...ancient flower seemed ready to crumble into dust in the doctor's hands." Pg. 160


Describe the relationships between the class theme and the story.
Dr. Hiedegger made the choice to share his wondrous water with four friends, effectively wasting what is considered to be extremely valuable. Not only that, but he was all too happy to give them more, simply to see what would happen.


Completion 4/5
Effort 3.5/5
Content 3.5/5

Total 11/15

Dr. Hiedegger's Experiment - Questions


1. According to Dr. Hiedegger, what is the purpose of his experiment?
According to Dr. Hiedegger, the purpose of the experiment is to test the Fountain of Youth's water on his four friends

2. What do Dr. Hiedegger's friends have in common? How does each of them behave during the experiment?
All of Dr. Hiedegger's male friends have been acquainted with Widow Wycherly.

3. Why would Dr. Hiedegger not stoop to bathe his lips in the Fountain of Youth? Do his friends feel the same way? Comment.
I think that Dr. Hiedegger would not drink the water, because he has had many bad things in his life, and he doesn't want to live forever, and have those experiences pile up.
His friends, however, want to go back to their youth and rectify the mistakes they made. However, just being young again won't make other people forget what they did. To completely erase what they did in the past, they would need to travel time or something.

4. Who is the narrator of the story? Though he is not a participant in the experiment, the narrator relates all the details. How does he know what happened to the doctor and his friends?
How certain of his facts is the narrator?
The narrator is omniscient, as he seems to know all his facts, and he knows them well. As with most narrators, his identity is unknown.

5. What points are made about youth and aging in the story? Do you agree with the views in the story? Comment.
Some of the points made is that if youth is restored, it will just be reversed through further aging. Also, most likely, if youth is restored, more and more mistakes will pile up, leading to a big disaster. Aging is probably one of the most dangerous things to tamper with.

7. Some scientists hope to develop a vaccine against aging. They speculate that human beings can live approximately 800 years. Do you feel this is desirable? Explain your answer.
If something like this was created, the benefits would be crushed by the overwhelming weight of the shortcomings. I think that this is not a desirable branch of science to even look into.