Horace Wells as a Classic Tragic Hero or Horace Wells. Reconciliation with a Tragic Hero

Published:February 28, 2021DOI:


      • Like Prometheus who stole fire from the gods, Wells stole the ability to ethically manipulate consciousness from the gods of the undiscovered country of pain, suffering and death. For “The final injustice is death, the ultimate bondage. To set captives free (of pain and suffering) is the knight's pragmatic way of battling death.” Bloom. The knight in the mirror.
      • Horace and Elizabeth Wells give us stubborn hope and love.
      • Horace did not see that the discovery for him was to be both an air from heaven and a blast from hell with intents both wicked and charitable.
      • Scientific knowledge does not carry instruction on how to use it, for good or bad… a moral choice is required. Feynman RP. The Pleasure of Finding Things Out. Perseus Publishing.1999. 142
      • Like these other tragic heroes Wells’ apparent failed end is not the ultimate truth concerning him.
      • Horace exemplified the primal romantic motivation of all doctors expressed by Percy Shelley (Poet 1792–1822): “I wish no living thing to suffer pain.” Shelley PB. Prometheus Unbound. I.305.


      Horace Wells is discussed in a literary manner as a classic tragic hero. Wells’ apparent failed end is not the ultimate truth concerning him. His story helps us see and confront life. Many of the scientific, personal, and social issues he grappled with are relevant to us today such as human experimentation and drug addiction. His idealism and romantic pursuit are to be admired. We benefit today from the achievements of his daring and fateful quest.


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