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[Nice title -- I wish more students put more thought into their titles.]
1 Anyone who has much exposure to the geriatric population knows that some elderly people are very content with their lives. Even though their bodies may not possess the same physical capabilities that they did in youth, they are surrounded by an aura of contentment that almost make one envious of the inner peace reaped as compensation for a life lived to its fullest capacity. [SV Agr - 1] Given another chance at youth, they would not change the path their lives have taken.
[The first two paragraphs could have been combined into one.]
2 There arc others who are bitter with the game that mother nature has played with them. They feel they have not been dealt a fair hand by fate and this is reflected in their manner both physically and spiritually. This is an accurate portrayal of the four friends in the short story written by Nathaniel Hawthorne entitled "Dr. Heidegger's Experiment." [Titles] As the theme of this story reveals, given a second chance at life, is it possible for a person to change their behavior.
[The theme of a work should probably not be stated as a question, i.e., either the work suggests that people can change their behavior, or that they cannot. This essay, for example, goes on to suggest that they cannot (or at least that they do not).]
3 Each of the four friends had chosen a lifestyle in which they had temporarily basked in the glow of prosperity, only to lose everything that represents success and respect as a result of their behavior. The description of Dr Heidegger's study -- dim, old fashioned, covered with cobwebs and dust -- parallels the physical description provided by the narrator of the four friends that have gathered for the experiment. The strength of their bodies has faded and left them withered and wrinkled shells of their former selves. The dark, dank atmosphere of the study reflects their melancholy personalities. They are characterized as gray, decrepit, sapless, miserable creatures. Although the the four friends had the opportunity in life to create their own pleasant memories to recall, each of them chose a path in life that left them with no fond recollections.
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[The topic sentence of this paragraph suggests that the paragraph will be about characterization (or perhaps plot), but the paragraph is essentially about setting. As a result, it is a misleading topic sentence. Note that the sentence does not reflect "II" in the outline (below).]
4 The conflict these friends encounter in their attempt to adjust to their bodies wearing out and their fast approaching death comes from the fact that they were not content with their lives. They had not grasped the truly important meaning of life. [Which is?] Rather than grow old gracefully and accept the inevitable aging process, they chose to participate in the experiment in an attempt to recapture their youth. Much of the "youthfulness" a person possesses is in his own mind. The water from the Fountain of Youth changed their physical bodies, but it could not alter their mind set. Therefore, when gave [given] the chance, they could not return to youth and take along the knowledge and wisdom they had accumulated.
[A better topic sentence would have included the words "youth" and "od age"-- "The friends' attempt to adjust to their bodies wearing out reflects the conflict in the story between youth and old age." Such a topic sentence would have enabled the writer to discuss the same conflict as it applies to Heidegger.]
5 The four friends wrestle with their past mistakes and the misfortune they have brought to their present circumstances. [Repetitious?] But when given the opportunity to take the knowledge they currently possess back to another chance at youth, they fail miserably. They revert to the same arrogant, self-serving individuals as in their past. Even though the four friends physically appear to be young after drinking the water from the vase, their reflections in the mirror reveal the fact that they are old souls just temporarily bathed in the illusions of youth. The four friends poke fun at their old style of attire, and even mock the doctor himself by imitating his elderly characteristics, thereby proving that given a second chance at youth, the same errors would be made. [To support the writer's thesis, shouldn't each of the four friends be analyzed separately?]
[The preceding topic sentence sounds like one from a plot summary. A better topic sentence would be something like "The conflict between youth and age is reinforced by two others, one between past and present, and one between appearance and reality." (See the writer's outline, below.) This would enable the writer to distinguish between the "youth/age" and "past/present" conflicts. At first they seem, to me at least, to be the same thing, but in thinking about them, I see a major difference in how they apply to Heidegger.]
6 From knowing these four friends for years, Dr. Heidegger knew before even asking that they would be interested in this experiment. He was aware of the history of these people, and therefore realized they were unhappy individuals who would be receptive to the idea of returning to their youth. Dr. Heidegger refuses to take part in the experiment because he states he had difficulty growing old and had no desire to repeat the struggle. Maybe he realizes that if he had a second chance at youth he would be tempted to repeat the same mistakes, just as those who took part of the experiment did. There is also the possibility that he was playing God and saw himself as above the level of immaturity that he was confident these four people would lower themselves to. [He may have another reason -- Sylvia Ward. Why did he have "much trouble growing old"? (581) I'm not sure why this sixth paragraph is in the essay.]
7 The rose, withered and crumbling with a brownish hue, symbolizes the physical appearance of the four friends. As the rose had decomposed over the years, so had their bodies and souls deteriorated with the passage of time. The way it is rejuvenated upon impact with the water symbolizes the way they are rejuvenated by consuming the water. The rose once added to the water begins to assume the color and characteristics of a fresh bud, much the same way the friends begin to feel the surge of youthfulness after drinking the water. When the vase is first mentioned, it is described as emitting a radiant light as the sun shone on it. This symbolizes the four friends' opportunity to experience the splendor of youth once again. The shattered vase symbolized their shattered chances at redemption, and the water flowing across the study floor symbolizes the youth flowing out of their veins. The butterfly represented the fleeting chance the four friends were given at youth. And as quickly as it was given, it was taken away.
[Another weak topic sentence. "The symbols in the story further suggest that people cannot change." Where did the rose come from? Where is it kept? What does it suggest about Heidegger? Too much of the paragraph retells what happened with the rose. There should be more explanation of what it means. The discussions of the vase and buttefly are better, but a lot more could also be said about the meaning of each of these two symbols. Why is the butterfly a butterfly and not a moth?]
8 These four people had reaped no joy from their experiences in life. They had not learned anything from the lessons taught over the years and[,] given the opportunity, it appears they would make the same mistakes again. They discovered as did Granny, in The Jilting of Granny Weatherall, [Titles] that we are only given one chance at life. A person can either greet and conquer each challenge presented in life, or carry the weight of sorrow, worry, and regret around for a lifetime. These were very unhappy individuals who were only concerned with appearances and selfish motives. They had still not learned that it is what we put into life that we ultimately reap. [This is ok, but it leaves open the question of what we are supposed to put into life. It appears that your essential point in the essay is that these four had not grasped the "truly important meaning of life" (paragraph 4). But if that is the case, shouldn't the story suggest what that meaning is?]
This essay reflects a lot of hard work and good thinking, but much of that work and thought are lost because of the problems with the thesis sentence and topic sentences.