Name: Jonathan Sheehan
Student I.D: 09006600
Module: EH4001 Critical Practice 1
Tutor: David Coughlan
Date: 5th November 2012
Word Count: 1,028
2. There are a number of themes which Poe repeats from story to story (for example, the doppelgänger, the premature burial, the death of a woman). With reference to at least two stories by Poe, identify such a motif and explicate its development in these texts.
The theme of the doppelganger is on that is ever-present throughout Edgar Allen Poe’s short stories. The doppelganger in Poe’s short stories is often used to examine the inner turmoil of the character it is mirroring or to add a physical reflection to the decreasing sanity or health of its significant other. This essay will explore the use of the doppelganger in Poe’s stories “The Fall of the House of Usher” and “William Wilson”. Poe utilises the doppelganger in very different ways in each of these stories. “The Fall of the House of Usher” presents both the mansion and the Usher siblings as doppelgangers of each other, whereas “William Wilson” explores the doppelganger theme through the manifestation of an identical clone.
In Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher” the first example of the doppelganger is seen in the relationship between Roderick and his twin sister Madeline. Roderick’s physical and mental deterioration is a mirror image of the illness that is afflicting his sister. Roderick acknowledges this when He admitted, however, although with hesitation, that much of the peculiar gloom which thus afflicted him could be traced to a more natural and far more palpable origin-to the severe and long continued illness-indeed to the evidently approaching dissolution of a tenderly beloved sister-his sole companion for long years-his last and only living relative on earth. “Her decease,” […] “would leave him (him the hopeless and the frail) the last of an ancient race of the Ushers.”(Poe, ”Usher” 204) Timmerman strengthens this claim when he proclaims...
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