Avoiding the Unavoidable Essay

Avoiding the Unavoidable Essay

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Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Allan Poe are often thought to have different themes in their writing, but in reality, they have extremely similar themes. In Hawthorne's "Dr. Heidegger's Experiment" and Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death," one theme is incredibly prominent. Death is unavoidable, and when one tries to escape death, one will always find it hiding around another corner. Death can be evaded by hiding behind a barrier or attempting to conquer it, but one will always fail and have a limited time before it catches up.
Hiding behind a barrier, be it physical or emotional, has always been the first line of defense in evading death. In "Dr. Heidegger's Experiment," Widow Wycherly, Colonel Killigrew, Mr. Medbourne, and Mr. Gascoigne hide from their old age and impending death by drinking the water from the Fountain of Youth: "Age, with its miserable train of cares and sorrows and diseases, was remembered only as the trouble of a dream, from which they had joyously awoke" (Hawthorne 9). The four comrades all took refuge in a corner of their minds, and saw each other in their own distorted reality. They bury themselves ever more deeper in this alternate dimension of youth. " 'We are younger- but we are still too old! Quick- give us more!' " (Hawthorne 7). Once presented with another defense against impending death, they do all they can to include it in their arsenal. In "The Masque of the Red Death", Prince Prospero shares the same feeling of invincibility. He locks himself and his comrades in his castellated abbey, in hopes that the Red Death will not reach them: "When his dominions were half depopulated, he summoned to his presence a thousand hale and light-hearted friends from among the knights and dames of his court, a...


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...ince Prospero take himself out, he condemned all those that were locked away with him: "And one by one dropped the revelers in the blood-bedewed halls of their revel, and died each in the despairing posture of his fall" (Poe 7). All one-thousand of his subjects that he had kept with him in his abbey were subjected to the same punishment. While both the four friends and Prince Prospero had different initial outcomes after their first failed attempt to avoid death, they share a common final outcome.
Whether one looks at the evidence presented about avoiding death by hiding behind barriers, or by attempting to conquer death, one can clearly see that evading death is impossible, and will always lead to failure. No matter how hard one tries, one cannot escape death. Before attempting to escape death, one should ponder about how gifted one is to receive one lifetime.

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