Dr. Heidegger, an eccentric old man, welcomes 4 of his friends to fulfill in his research study. Mr. Medbourne had actually when been a wealthy merchant, but had lost all his fortune by a “frantic speculation,” and was now little bit much better than a beggar. Colonel Killigrew had actually squandered his finest years on sinful satisfaction, which had actually added to various health problems. Mr. Gascoigne had actually once been an infamous political leader, today was just unknown. Widow Wycherly had actually as soon as been a beautiful girl, however, outrageous stories of her youth had turned the town against her and driven her into privacy. Each of the male visitors had, at one moment, been lovers of Widow Wycherly, and had as soon as competed to win her to the point of “cutting each other’s throats for her sake”.
Mr. Heidegger’s research study is referred to as a curious place, a dim chamber filled with weird objects: a skeleton, a looking-glass that supposedly exposed the Doctor’s departed patients, a picture of a lady whom the Physician was as soon as to marry before her tragic and unforeseen death, and a black book filled with magic. On the particular summer afternoon of the tale, a little, round table rests in the center of the room. Positioned upon the table is a glass vase, in addition to four champagne glasses.
The Doctor asks his good friends to assist him in an experiment. He takes an old, withered rose from the black book of magic, an increased he professes bloomed fifty-five years prior. He threw the increased into the vase, and as it lay upon the surface area of the water, it restored its original bloom. Dr. Heidegger explains to his buddies that the water is from the Fountain of Youth. His friends are doubtful, and Colonel Killigrew asks what impact the water might have on a human being. The Doctor welcomes his good friends to attempt the water, however decreases participation, stating, “Having had much trouble aging, I remain in no rush to grow young once again”. Before they drink, he warns them: “Think what a sin and pity it would be, if, with your strange advantages, you need to not become patterns of virtue and wisdom to all the young people of the age.” His pals, who had actually come to be sorry for and repent the mistakes of their youth, make fun of the thought that they would ever go astray once again.
The visitors consume, and instantly see a difference– everyone appears much healthier, brighter, and livelier. They demand more water, impatient to grow even younger, till they were again in their prime. However, their aged figures shown in the Physician’s mirror hint that their newly found youth is simply a misconception. The widow, dancing flirtatiously, asks the Doctor to be her partner. The doctor defers to the other three guys, who excitedly collect around the Widow, now a young and lovely female once again. They begin to eliminate with each other for her attention, till, “grappling fiercely at one another’s throats”, they overturn the table and shatter the vase holding the Water of Youth.
The physician’s buddies discover themselves old once again. The Physician proclaims that his friends have actually taught him a crucial lesson: that even if the fountain were to gush at his doorstep, he would not drink from it, even if the delirium it enabled lasted for years rather of moments. His good friends, however, had actually not discovered this lesson. Rather, they resolve to take a trip to the Fountain of Youth.
Throughout their youth, the four “age-old” friends gave into their different vices. Now wizened in old age, they laugh at the idea that they would commit the exact same follies if given another chance to be young. Nevertheless, with one taste of Dr. Heidegger’s youth serum, they do precisely that. Hawthorne’s usage of the word “venerable,” one author writes, need to be ironic, as the characters do not demonstrate the severity that the word communicates.
Some have argued that their transient experience of youth was a mere misconception, as Hawthorne tips with the words “fancied,” “seemed,” “intoxicating,” and “deception” that the elixir of youth was only, maybe, champagne or alcohol. No matter the nature of the fluid, it produced an effect that, real or not, revealed a simple message: individuals seldom learn their lessons, and might only repeat the same mistakes when given the chance to relive the past.
Though Dr. Heidegger’s visitors’ appearances were (maybe) changed by the water, their characters were not. Dr. Heidegger too remains the same by the events. He touches his cherished’s rose when it goes back to its withered state, announcing to like it in its decrepit condition simply as he had appreciated its flower. The rose, a symbol of both his bride-to-be and her death, can not restore Sylvia’s life nor bring back Dr. Heidegger’s innocence. The old man’s sorrows can not be eliminated by a wonderful elixir and hence he refuses the appeals of the water. Just as his pals’ true, flawed natures are exposed by his “experiment”, the Physician’s wisdom reveals itself.
From a historic perspective, the characters in the story can also be connected to genuine individuals. Thomas Killigrew and William Wycherley, for instance, were Restoration writes of “bawdy funnies”. Wycherley had “incurred the ill feeling of Charles II and languished 7 years in prison, not able to settle the financial obligations he had actually run up as a male of style”. Gascoigne in the story is a “male of evil popularity,” and George Gascoigne, an English writer of funny, was as soon as charged with criminal offenses such as murder and atheism. Matthew Medbourne, a star who died in jail in 1679, was involved in “frenzied speculation,” just as the character Medbourne in the story. Lastly, the name Heidegger can also be discovered in stage history. John James Heidegger, Manager of the King’s Theater for George II, was charged in 1729 for promoting vice and immorality. In a sense, the Heidegger in Hawthorne’s story also promotes vice, by enabling his buddies to relive wicked times. Once again, Hawthorne employs fact in his fiction to promote his message to his readers through familiarity.