The Uncanny Double and the Evil Eye
All that is portrayed as beyond the ordinary suggests evidence of supernatural influences. According to natural laws, everything that is beyond the preternatural is unexplainable since there is still no logical answer to corroborate the facts. In James Hogg’s novel, The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner, Robert Wringhim takes extreme measures to conquer the ultimate satisfaction of being one of the elite, chosen by God. Robert believes that no matter what the consequence will be he is predestined and will be saved after all. Robert explores the uncanny, particularly through the evil eye and the double as Sigmund Freud identifies in his essay, The Uncanny.
The uncanny can be described as rather fearful and “all that is terrible” (Freud 1). The uncanny remains fearful as it represents elements of uncertainty that cannot scientifically be explained. Freud suggests that something can become uncanny when a certain object or person experiences a change. It is the uncanny elements that appear to be familiar, this is frightening since it is not known or remembered. Furthermore, Freud seeks to define how the subconscious change of certain familiar objects instigates terror to human beings. “The uncanny is that class of the frightening which leads back to what is known of old and long familiar” (Freud 1), this also suggests that the uncanny can be a familiar object that has been repressed through fear into the unconscious and temporarily forgotten because of desires or even fears from one’s own personal mind. Freud evaluates the German word “heimlich”, the opposite of “unheimlich” as a conflicting idea of all that is familiar, and all that is unfamiliar. The uncertainty of certain objects can appear through “things, persons, impressions, events and situations” (Freud 3). The uncanny can also suggest a dreamlike experience, Jentsch goes as far as to state, “whether an apparently animate being is really alive; or conversely, whether a lifeless object might not be in fact animate” (Freud 3), often these dreamlike experiences whether real or imagined lead to a moral sense of ambiguity.
Moreover, the superstition of the evil eye is a dreadful look that has the ability to make a person feel extremely uncomfortable and could even cause harm. Accordingly, the evil eye is especially evoked when another person has something desirable that another is envy of. Freud accentuates the evil eye as “Whoever possesses something that is at once valuable and fragile is afraid of the envy of others, in that he projects on to them the envy he would have felt in their place” (Freud 12). The evil eye is nonetheless a very evil stare that encourages jealousy by means of not having or achieving what others have. Moreover, it is not the stare itself that is feared and uncanny, but “what is feared is thus a secret intention of harming someone” (Freud 12). The mysterious background behind the evil eye is indeed enigmatic since it raises a lot of questions to the person experiencing the evil eye directed towards them. Thus, the evil eye can also signify a will for extreme desire for power and control in a human being as Freud explains by achieving certain virtues and gaining special power.
Furthermore, Freud introduces the phenomenon of the double also characterized as the doppelgänger. The double can be portrayed as a mental process and according to Freud, both of the doubles do not only look alike but they also “possess knowledge, feelings and experience in common with the other”, “the subject identifies himself with someone else” or “substitutes the extraneous self for his own” (Freud 9). Freud also analyses the double as a similar reoccurrence such as “the repetition of the same features or character-traits or vicissitudes, of the same crimes, or even the same names through several consecutive generations” (Freud 9). The double often questions the likeness of two different things that look...
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