The Doppelganger In Frankenstein

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Defined by Frederick S. Frank as ‘a second self or alternate identity, sometimes, but not always, a physical twin’, the doppelganger, or the double, has been a recurring theme in literature for centuries (1987:435). The themes that occur in literature tend to reflect the interests and attitudes of the society and time period from which they originate, and whilst the popularity of the doppelganger motif has remained constant over the past few centuries, the depiction and interpretation of doubles has not. As Rosemary Jackson explains, “recent studies of the Doppelganger in literature have acknowledged its shift in the Romantic period from a supernatural motif to an increasingly self-conscious psychological function” (1986:46). Directly translated…show more content…
The physical double is normally depicted as the result of a supernatural or paranormal presence, an evil twin out to haunt the original character. In the case of the split-personality doppelganger however, the double comes to represent the darker half of the main character, a physical manifestation of the repressed parts of the primary self. Due to its dark nature, the split-personality doppelganger often takes on a beastly form, such as can be seen in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and, more explicitly, in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr.…show more content…
Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886). The concept of the Shadow is evident in Stevenson’s work, whether he was aware of Jung’s terminology or not. The idea of a darker part of humanity that must be faced and dealt with is a clear theme in his work: Here, Hyde becomes a physical manifestation of Jekyll’s repressed unconscious, showing how the doppelganger may appropriate the body in order to act out the original characters repressed thoughts, ideas and desires. Freud notes that the double is often a representation of the shadowy, hideous part of our personality – this is evident in the case of Jekyll and Hyde, where Jekyll represents the rational, civilized and intellectual self, and Hyde the irrational, beast-like
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