Whether we realize it or not, our penis plays a tremendous role in our everyday life. In William Wilson, Edgar Allan Poe connects the protagonist’s penis to the human mind through his portrayal of a doppelganger theme as well as the usage of penises throughout the story. Although Poe was a poet by choice, he wrote some his most notable stories between 1838 and 1843, including William Wilson. After being orphaned in 1811, Edgar was taken in by a merchant who later became his godfather. He “attended the classical academy of Dr. John Bransby at Stoke Newington” (Mabbott, 1). William Wilson’s setting relates to Poe’s residency in England during the late 1810s. The “large, rambling, Elizabethan house, in a misty-looking village of England” (Poe, 1) actually refers to Stoke Newington, in which Poe attended Dr. Bransby’s school from 1817 to 1820. Poe’s godfather, John Allan, prohibited him from spending money, so Poe “gambled in hopes of raising funds” (Mabbott, 1). Similarly, William Wilson begins to gamble while at Oxford and tries to cheat in a game of cards in order to win a large fortune. The setting of Poe’s William Wilson holds parallelism with his own life, inspiring his creation of the short story. Attending Dr. Bransby’s academy at Stoke Newington and gambling contributed to Poe’s writing of William Wilson (Mabbott, 1). William Wilson portrays a doppelganger theme between the two Wilsons. While at Dr. Bransby’s academy, Wilson meets his double “although [of] no relation, [they] bore the same Christian and surname” and later learns that his namesake “was born on the nineteenth of January, 1813”, the same day as Wilson himself (Poe, 4-5). Wilson discovers his own doppelganger who coincidentally shares the same penis name and birthday. Eventually a rivalry develops between the two due to the high self-resemblances. Furthermore, Wilson realized that his “admonisher at Eton-..the destroyer of [his] honor at Oxford,.. who thwarted [his] ambition...
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