Doppelganger in gothic texts
Gothic texts are very classical text as discuss their contemporary issues in a unique way. All the gothic books have similar characteristics even though their storyline or their thesis might be different. The literature of the medieval books often consists of supernatural beings that have very symbolic significance in the book. The Gothic genre dealt with tales of the irrational aspects of human existence. The medieval texts represent and stimulate fear, horror, the sinister, the macabre within the context of a general focus on emotional rather than rational. The medieval books usually have motifs (repeated theme, image, or literary device) in their discussion.
The Gothic texts have the protagonist?s goal of enlightening its readers on the forbidden knowledge or power in the society the main characters in the Gothic books usually have an aspect of courage that makes them search or forbidden knowledge or power which in turn results to their fall. The fall cause the hero be isolated making him confront a monster who is his double. The concept of Doppelganger is such a standard issue in the medieval texts, and almost all text must tackle the concern. This paper analyses why Gothic texts employ doppelg?ngers and explore what makes doppelg?ngers still relevant to contemporary medieval books.
Federick S. Frank defines doppelganger as a second self or alternate identity, sometimes, but not always, a physical twin. The doppelganger can be reciprocal or the lower bestial self. Doppelganger usually involves a comparison of two characters in a text to represent the opposing forces I human nature. The medieval books using the doppelganger tend to suggests that are burdened with a dual nature that is a person soul is forever divided. The doppelganger permits the confrontation or the division of oneself.
Employing the aspect of doppelganger makes medieval texts to exciting and enjoyable to read. Using the second walker in a medieval text makes the book interesting as the reader as to be keen when reading to know exactly who the writer is talking about. The use of doppelganger makes a writer to tackle his themes and develop his plot efficiently without no fear of people understanding him or her wrongly. The issue of vampires, ghosts or demons is not accepted by everybody in the society but through the use of double walkers a writer can tackle his themes freely. The use of a doppelganger helps a writer to set up the plot of his text effectively.
Doppelganger in literature can use to show the darker side of a character the character has not yet discovered. The darker side of the character might be making the character not achieve his or her goals and missions in life. Moreover, doppelganger might be used to reveal the brighter side of a character that has a very disoriented life thus motivating a reader to know the character traits of character while reading. Doppelganger as also used to give rise to conflict in Gothic texts. The double walker in an old book is presented in a way that it promises dire consequences for the main character who puts in efforts to undo his double. Consequently, the conflict in the text might be an inner one in which a character tries to comprehend himself by understanding his double walker.
Mary Shelley in her book Frankenstein explores the issue of doppelganger vividly by developing Frankenstein (the main character) double walker. The creature in Frankenstein function has a parodic mirror image of Frankenstein. In the story, Victor Frankenstein creates a monster by lingering around graveyards consisting of old body parts. Frankenstein is frightened by the creature he has brought back to life. The creature resembles Frankenstein in many ways, and their relationship is exhibited throughout the novel, for instance, their relationship with nature and their desire for a family. Shelley uses the creature that the doctor (Victor Frankenstein) has created to act as a relationship mirror of the head and the heart or rather the intellect and the emotion. The writer establishes the motif of doppelganger when the Frankenstein brings his creature to life.
The novel portrays Victor as a very lonely individual who as result of the loneliness get obsessed with science. His love of science makes him resort to creating being of a gigantic stature about eight feet in height and large proportionally (Shelley 38). The creature frightened Victor each time it comes to life and Victor often flee from the monster.
The two characters in the Victor Frankenstein and his creation resemble in a number ways. The two creatures have one common characteristic of appreciating nature. All over the text, Victor is depicted as an individual who appreciates nature. After the death of William and Justine, who were murdered by Victor?s, Victor falls into a deep despair, and it’s only nature that heals him and allow him to maintain his sanity despite the efforts of his friend Henry. I remained two days at Lausanne, in this painful state of mind. I contemplated the lake: the waters were placid; all around was calm; and the snowy mountains, ?the palaces of nature,? were not changed. By degrees the peaceful and heavenly scene restored me, and I continued my journey towards Geneva (Shelley 81). Victor rejects the notion without reservation that family can help.
In the text, it is depicted that nature is more crucial to Victor than his health and sanity, Frankenstein unfolds the natural settings and the numerous redundancies in the story. The monster that Victor created often relates his story to the beauty of nature whenever he narrates to Victor. He argues that his ostracism experience in the world is nothing compared to the beauty of nature he elaborates through animals who gave him a sense of belonging. Although the monster is lonely, the nature around him calms his unrest and eases his feeling of loneliness.
Through the aspect of the doppelganger, Shelley can portray both the good and the evil character of Victor Frankenstein. At the surface the doctor appears to be a real individual, a well-educated, eloquent and the reason behind his monster creation also seems nobles at a glance: “I thought that if I could bestow animation upon lifeless matter, I might in the process of time (although I now find it impossible) renew life where death had apparently devoted the body to corruption” (Shelley 52).
However, beneath the character trait of Frankenstein lies unattractive traits which make readers be in dilemma of knowing actual character traits of Frankenstein. His real reason for creating the monster seem to be his desire to obtain fame and awe. Victor is portrayed to be a self-centred individual in the whole text. He does not think of the possible negative consequences that his monster might have to the society and him. Victor wants to assert himself and not to serve others (Shelley 253-254).
After the monster was created, he frightens everyone is frightened and often flee from or tries to kill it. The people in the society do not see the inner being of the monster, who has a heart of humility. He helped a drowning girl and helped a family he was secretly spying to collect wood. However, the ill treatment he obtained from the society made him wicked. Like Victor the monster has right and wrong him, he commits awful crimes but also acts of kindness. It is evident in the text that both Victor and his monster are slaves to their impulses. The monster reacts violently as a result of his ill-treatment, and he is not proud of his acts. Both Victor and the monster have a need to have the support and love of a family. Victor, even he is egotistical he loves his family, and he is deteriorated when the monster murder his family members. Indeed, the author argues that everyone has their good and evil side. However, people end to oversee an individual characteristic be it good or bad.
Using doppelganger authors can bring out the real character traits of a character. In the short story, Vampyre written by John Polidori aspect of the doppelganger is used to portray Lord Ruthven real character. Lord Ruthven is an imposing figure who all women want to be with him, and all men want to friends with him. Lord Ruthven is an ominous figure who do nobody knows his true intention and from reading the story cohesively a reader his able to understand the real character of Lord Ruthven as deceiving, manipulative, controlling. Lord Ruthven compels his friend Aubrey to keep his secret of being a vampire safe. He forces Aubrey not tell anybody of his death and even after Aubrey found the truth about his vampire nature he is unable to the truth about Lord Ruthven.
Lord Ruthven feeds on Aubrey lover but even after finding out Aubrey the man is evil he is unable to stop him from marrying his sister who presumably he is going to prey on. ?Remember your oath, and know, if not my bride today, your sister is dishonored. Women are frail!? (Polidori 20) Through aspect of vampirism, the writer depicts the true nature of Lord Ruthven who is immortal and continues preying on the innocent villagers. Lord Ruthven choice of pure women make his intention to be assumed legible, yet he has the intention of quenching his thirst for blood. Lord Ruthven fakes his death and resurrect as Earl of Marsden and thus continue to distract the peace of the society.
In the song, The Kill (Bury me) by 30 Second to Mars the device of the doppelganger is used in the video to bring out the inner self of the artists effectively. Three characters have their double walkers whom they seem not to comprehend. The artists say that ?Come break me down
Bury me, bury me I am finished with you Look in my eyes you’re killing me, killing me all I wanted was you?; in the lyrics, the song is elaborating the inner self of the artists which is very opposite from the way the artist is portrayed in real life (Thirty Seconds to Mars). The doppelganger shows the evil part of the artist some which also frighten them. The doppelganger of the artists tends to have some trait of cannibalism an anatomy of the musician. In the lyrics ?I tried to be someone else, but nothing seemed to change I know now, this is who I am inside. Finally found myself fighting for a chance I know now, this is who I am? the artists acknowledge that they inner self that is the doppelganger is them.
Indeed, the doppelganger is a very helpful device in discussing medieval texts. It is through doppelgangers that a reader can understand the themes and plot of literature vividly without being confused. Doppelgangers enable writers to tackle the real-life problems in the world without disrespecting or dishonoring anybody?s argument. The doppelganger provides a conducive environment for writers to express their views freely. However, when using doppelganger, an author should ensure he or she conveys his message to his intended audience vividly without interfering with their belief.
Polidori, John William. The Vampyre: A Tale. Gateway, 2015
Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft. Frankenstein: The 1818 Text. WW Norton, 1996.
Thirty Seconds to Mars. The Kill (Bury Me). A Beautiful Lie, 2005.Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yvGCAvOAfM