Doppelganger, a German phrase meaning “look-alike,” or “double walker,” originally mentioned a ghost, or shadow of a man or woman; however in cutting-edge times it virtually refers to a character that may be a look-alike of some other person.
Types of Doppelganger
In literature, a doppelganger is usually fashioned as a twin, shadow, or a mirror-photograph of a protagonist. It refers to a individual who physically resembles the protagonist, and can have the identical call as well. Several kinds of doppelganger may be spotted in world literature. It may also take the shape of an evil twin, now not recognized to the actual person, who confuses people associated with that original person.
It can also be figured as one character present in two exceptional locations at the equal time. Sometimes, a doppelganger is a man or woman’s past or destiny self. In a few cases, it may truly be a individual’s look-alike.
Doppelganger in Folklore
In conventional folklore, doppelganger is a malicious and evil character, having no shadow or reflection. It troubles and harms its counterpart with the aid of putting bad mind and ideas in his or her head. In some cultures, seeing one’s doppelganger is awful luck, and is mostly a signal of serious contamination or drawing near death.
Examples of Doppelganger in Literature
Let us see some doppelganger examples and their role in literature:
Example #1: Hamlet (By William Shakespeare)
The ghost of Hamlet’s father in Shakespeare’s Hamlet is an example of doppelganger. The idea of having revenge is installed Hamlet’s mind through the apparition of his father, who tells him that he became murdered. The use of a doppelganger facilitates Shakespeare to installation the plot of his play, which revolves across the theme of revenge.
Example #2: William Wilson (By Edgar Allan Poe)
William Wilson, a quick story with the aid of Edgar Allan Poe, follows the topic of doppelganger. William, the protagonist, meets every other boy in school, who had the equal name and looked highly like him. He dressed like him, and even walked like him. The only difference between them turned into that William’s doppelganger could best talk in a whisper.
The doppelganger haunts William all his life. Worn out through interference from his double in his affairs, William stabs him, handiest to discover – looking in the mirror –that he has stabbed himself. He hears the voice of his rival as though it become his own:
“In me didst thou exist—and, in my death, see through this picture, that's thine own, how utterly thou hast murdered thyself.”
Example #3: The Secret Sharer (By Joseph Conrad)
Joseph Conrad uses a doppelganger theme in his brief story The Secret Sharer. In the story, Laggatt, the ex-skipper of a ship, acts as a doppelganger of the Captain. The Captain discovers Laggatt swimming in the sea naked, helps him come aboard, and offers him his clothes to wear.
The men have each similarities and dissimilarities. Laggatt, who is complete of calmness and self-confidence, facilitates the Captain to eliminate his uncertainty and undue apprehensions. In fact, Laggatt is other self of the Captain, whom he has failed to discover until then.
Example #4: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (By Robert Louis Stevenson)
Robert Louis Stevenson explores the theme of doppelganger in his novel Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Hyde is an evil double of the honorable Dr. Jekyll. Jekyll creates Hyde through clinical experiments, to prove his statement:
“… man isn't sincerely one, but clearly two.”
He method that the human soul is a aggregate of evil and good, and Hyde is the manifestation of the evil that existed in Dr. Jekyll. As a decent Victorian gentleman, Jekyll can by no means satisfy the evil dreams current in him. Therefore, he separates his “evil-self,” giving him a separate identity.
Function of Doppelganger
A survey of doppelganger examples leads one to finish that this literary tool serves a variety of functions in literature. It may be used to reveal the “other self” of a man or woman, which he or she has no longer located yet. This “other self” could be the darker facet of the character that issues, or the brighter aspect that motivates. Hence, using doppelganger facilitates writers to portray complex characters.
Moreover, doppelganger offers rise to a war in a tale. The doppelganger acts in a manner that promises dire outcomes for the main individual, who puts in efforts to undo the moves of his double. Sometimes, the battle is an internal one, where a character attempts to recognize himself through understanding his doppelganger.
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