William Wilson - Detailed Summary Character Analysis Themes Symbolism Imagery Allegory Questions

4 Ocak 2014 Cumartesi

William Wilson - Edgar Allan Poe

“William Wilson” begins with a narrator introducing himself with a fake name: William Wilson. He doesn’t want to tell you his real name. He would like you to sit and listen to his story, the story of his fall into true and terrible evil, and if you wouldn’t mind, try to feel some sympathy for him, as he was the victim of fated circumstances beyond his control.
William’s story begins in his childhood; he always had an overactive imagination and a strong will and a propensity for vice. When he was in school, he dominated all of the other boys – except for one, another young lad who also had the name William Wilson, who was the same age and looked exactly the same as our narrator. The two boys competed in every way, and the second William Wilson often stopped the first from doing anything immoral. One night, truly horrified by the identical nature of this other boy to himself, our narrator flees the schoolhouse.
He ends up next at Eton, but before long finds himself tormented by a masked and cloaked figure whom he knows to be the second William Wilson. He goes on to Oxford and engages in vice to no end, only to find that the masked double is behind him once again. One night, after winning an exorbitant amount at cards, William’s double shows up and reveals that he has been cheating.
William travels all over the world but cannot escape the second William Wilson. One night, at a masquerade ball, he decides to finally put an end to this. He takes his double into a private room and stabs him fatally – only to find that, rather than facing a second William Wilson, he faces only his own reflection in a mirror. His reflection tells him that he only lived through his double, and that now he has murdered himself.



“William Wilson” explores the theme of the doppelganger, or ghostly double. Poe’s inspiration for the story was the horror one feels when discovering another person shares your name. In this story, this horror is magnified by the exact identical appearance, age, and manner of the double.

Freedom and Confinement

“William Wilson” is the story of a man trapped by his own conscience and victim to his own overactive imagination. All of his attempts at escaping are necessarily doomed from the start; man cannot run from his alter ego, nor rid himself of conscience, nor break free of his own imagination.

Character Analysis:

The Narrator

‘William Wilson” explores the theme of the doppelganger, or ghostly double. The second William Wilson is the doppelganger of the first William Wilson; he looks just like him, talks just like him, has the same name, birthday, and tags along behind him all across the world. Poe has taken the internal struggle we all feel when we want to do something bad but know we ought to resist and played it out externally. The little angel on William’s shoulder has come to life –at least in his imagination, which in a first-person narrated story is as good as reality.

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

The Doppelganger's Shielded Face

The doppelganger is a product of the narrator’s overactive imagination, then his face is hidden because William subconsciously wants it to be hidden. This makes sense; he was horrified the last time he looked at his double up close – why would he want to do it again? For one reason or another, William’s subconscious doesn’t want his conscious self to know that his doppelganger is really his alter ego.

William Wilson

1.Why did the writer use a nickname?
2.How was the narrator’s life when he was a child?
3.Who was the other William Wilson? What’s so strange about him?
4.In what aspects the two Wilsons are different and same? Why was the narrator frustrated with him?
5.Who visited the narrator at Eton college? What did he tell him?
6. Who visited the narrator at Oxford University? What did he tell the narrator’s friends?
7.Why do you think the second Wilson follow the first one? What’s not normal with his clothes?
8.Why did the narrator leave Oxford University?
9.What happened in Duke Di Broglio’s palace? Why did he fight against his double?
10.Who was the second William Wilson? Why do you think he spoke in whisper?

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