Saturday, November 7, 2009
Poe Fridays (on Saturday)
This week's selection is the short story, William Wilson. You can read the full text here.
In this story, our narrator, who tells us to call him William Wilson, tells the story of his life, from childhood at boarding schoool, through profligate adulthood. While at school, which he actually enjoyed, another student was in attendance whose name was also William Wilson. The second William was the only student to offer competition in any area to our narrator, so of course he hated his namesake. Eventually, the second William began dressing and appearing identically to our narrator, so he fled from the school, only to find that the second William left the same day.
Thus began a period of years in which he did lots and lots of bad things, each ending with the appearance of the second William. One night, our narrator had the opportunity to catch the second William, and stabbed him fatally. He then found himself in front of a mirror, where his own image informs him that he has killed himself.
Oh, I love the doppleganger! It's one of my favorite literary tropes. This story actually reminded me, in many ways, of the movie Fight Club - it's easy to see how William Wilson could have influenced that story. In this case, Wilson's doppleganger appears each time he does something bad - potentially, the double is his conscience, and by killing it he has killed himself only in the sense that now he is completely evil.
This was an interesting story. I did figure out the "twist" early on, but that didn't make it less enjoyable.
Poe Fridays is hosted by Kristen at WeBeReading.