The Role Of Doppelgänger In Gothic Literature

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2. The Doppelgänger in Gothic Fiction

The term “doppelgänger” comes from German and can literally translated as “double-goer” (Strengell ....: n. pag.). According to The New International Webster’s Comprehensive Dictionary of the English Language, it is defined as either a “person exactly like another; a double” or a “wraith, especially of a person not yet dead” (1999: 378). The idea of the phantom double is an ancient belief included in various superstitions and folklore. Therefore, in the past, a doppelgänger was an apparition of someone who was still alive, and was perceived as a sign of an imminent disaster or death (Gamache ...: 1). Federick S. Frank later described it in a broader sense, namely as “a second self or alternate identity,
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Other examples involving elements of doubling are two German Gothic works by E.T.A. Hoffmann, Die Elixiere des Teufels (The Devil’s Elixir) (1815-16) and “Die Doppelgänger” (The Doppelgänger) (1821), Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818; 1823), Edgar Allan Poe’s William Wilson (1839) and Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886). In the 19th century, thanks to the renewed interest of the Romantic movement and Gothic fiction in the matter, the figure of the doppelgänger took on a new complexity and significance. Discoveries in science and psychology enabled people to understand aspects of the human mind which were previously unknown, and to perceive the character of the double in a different way. In most texts, the doppelgänger was represented as the evil counterpart of the main character, as something outside the person, but, at that time, “people started viewing the double as something that could possibly come from within an individual” (Gamache ...: 1). Therefore, the “demonic ‘other’” (Jackson ...: 44) became a symbol for the evil side of everyone’s psyche, which was even more terrifying. The double motif, thus, suggests that people are characterized by internal conflicts between good and

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