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date: 25 May 2022

Abstract and Keywords

Poe’s stories of doubles (doppelgängers) from “William Wilson” to “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Cask of Amontillado” demonstrate a spectrum of uses for this device. In accordance with the tradition of using literary doubles to represent a character’s psychological struggle, Poe most frequently has the narrator’s threatening double represent his conscience or his inner judge, and the battle between the counterparts of the same identity ultimately involves an attempt to silence, evade, or eradicate an individual’s conscience. This essay argues that “Wilson” and “Cask” are themselves counterparts to each other in their divergent representation of the struggle with the double. “Wilson” shows the dire consequences for an individual in the attempted destruction of the conscience, whereas “Cask” more sinisterly suggests that one can emerge from this struggle with one’s own conscience successfully liberated of its restraint.

Keywords: Edgar Allan Poe, double, doppelgänger, William Wilson, The Cask of Amontillado, The Tell-Tale Heart, conscience

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