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How does Poe portray the motif of the doppelganger, or character double, in his two tales “The Fall of the House of Usher” and “William Wilson”?

Free Essays / Literature / How does Poe portray the motif of the doppelganger, or character double, in his two tales “The Fall of the House of Usher” and “William Wilson”?
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Poe’s artwork has been viewed as very contemporary and can be said to influence today’s Goth culture. The Portable Edgar Allan Poe book contains the classics that made other artists be inspired, through his flawlessly written art. This is a compilation of the tales that clearly brought out terror, fantasy, revenge, mystery, and murder (Meyers, 1992 p.21). The character double is where things are view in image and likeness, the doubles having been expressed in form of; doppelganger, shadows, mandrakes, twins, mirror images, and alter ego.

The double effect however has a unique message which is the same. For example there is self separation and self destruction that has been used to show the double character in the in “The Fall of the House of Usher” and “William Wilson”. The double is also used to show that people can be deluded by looks, through emotional feelings. The alienation of the personal being form social behavior leads to loss of personal identity that can cause violence or psychological breakdown. The attempt of the author to murder his enemy brings out incidences of suicide since the competing foe is also part of his own conscience.

Hoseini, (2009 para.4) sites the doppelganger as “a ghostly counterpart of a living person”. It is German that is arrived at through Doppel meaning double and ganger meaning goer. In both the “The Fall of the House of Usher” and “William Wilson,” Poe inspects the doppelganger and gives different features in each of the story. In the “The Fall of the House of Usher,” he ushers in a possibility of a divide of the mind and body in the twins Roderick and Madeline.

The twins represent an external philosophical affiliation involving mind and body, though they are identified in each half of the representation. As the twins are inseparable so does Poe suggests happens to the mind and body. Poe in “William Wilson,” gets more concentrated in the internalized effects of the mind and soul. He in fact lays emphasis on paranoid thoughts as he creates a doppelganger that is physical through his mental pathology. In the “The Fall of the House of Usher,” he attempts resolving the rivalry with a sword which helps the author bring out the effects of mental illnesses; while in “William Wilson,” the two beings are brought to one being which is then haunted by personality that is divided.

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