Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment – Hawthorne for Middle School
Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment leads a new Adapted Classics compilation of three illustrated stories for middle school readers by Nathaniel Hawthorne. We titled the compilation Hawthorne Illustrated and published it August 31, 2018.
In 2014, Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment, in single story form, was the first in our Adapted Classics collection of stories. To begin with, we liked the story as much as any we’ve ever read. Also, we knew it would fully demonstrate the amazing artistic skills and inventive mind of illustrator Marc Johnson-Pencook. As short stories go, few are as visually rich as Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment, and nobody renders pen and ink illustrations better than Marc Johnson-Pencook.
Moral Lessons in Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment
Besides enjoying an entertaining story, middle school readers can learn life lessons from Dr Heidegger’s Experiment. Nathaniel Hawthorne taught many moral lessons via his stories. This story delivers at least one such lesson . In our opinion, the main theme of the story concerns the difficulty individuals encounter overcoming innate human tendencies toward certain behaviors. Do we readily learn from experience, or are we hard-wired to do life all over again the same way if we had we a second chance? Or something in-between?
Dr Heidegger advises four old friends he invited to his study to closely consider their past mistakes. He thinks that’s important before they join an experiment that will restore their youth. Oh yes, surely they have learned enough from the suffering they have endured in their lives to avoid making the same mistakes again. They can’t believe they would need to bother with self-reflection and self-instruction before revisiting youth again.
Many people probably wonder how they would live their lives if they could go back and do it over again. Without doubt, many believe they would succeed in doing things better a second time around. Dr. Heidegger would question their confidence. Nothing he witnessed in his experiment supported that notion. And with or without preparing himself, he never even supposed he could live life any better himself.
We combined Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment with two other fine Nathaniel Hawthorne stories in Hawthorne Illustrated. Both, Mr. Higginbotham’s Catastrophe and our new adaptation, Feathertop, will entertain middle school readers . We will discuss the latter two stories in future posts. All three stories are excellent, and all three are masterfully illustrated by Mr. Marc Johnson-Pencook.