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In Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Dr. Heidegger's Experiment", I was asked to figure out how Hawthorne feels about transcendentalism. We determined that Dr. Heidegger represents Ralph Waldo Emerson, a transcendentalist. However, I can't decide if Hawthorne thought transcendentalism was ridiculous and overly-optimistic or if he was making fun of it or praising it???? I think that determining whether or not the water the old people drink is really full of youth or not is important, but Hawthorne leaves that open to interpretation. So, I am totally confused about what he feels about transcendentalism. If anyone can help me on this, I'd really appreciate it.

You are thinking too hard. Hawthorne was poking fun at them, they dressed weirdly, and were odd. Read this:

http://www.hawthorneinsalem.org/ScholarsForum/MMD2635.html

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