A common theme that can be seen often in life, history and even literature is the theme of struggle. People struggle against things on both a superficial level and an actual level. For example, one could be constantly struggling against the opinion of others, or the pressures of society, or maybe even time. On the other hand, one could be experiencing physical struggle with a person, a group, an illness, etc. Actual struggles often are with things that cannot be stopped or experienced with the senses. These kinds of struggles are the most common in literature. In Nathaniel Hawthorne's story Dr. Heidegger's Experiment, the characters each represent an aspect of life that society strives to reach and uphold, and at the same time the characters are fighting against time to stay young but find out the inevitable, that death is an inescapable struggle.
In the story, the characters Mr.Medbourne, Mr.Gascoigne, Widow Wycherly, and Colonel Killigrew are invited to Dr. Heidegger's. He has the intent of studying typic