william wilson

greenspun.com : LUSENET : The Work of Edgar Allan Poe : One Thread

i need a summary of william wilson!!!! ergent!!!! please help!!!!!

-- Anonymous, March 09, 2003


This is tough because of the narrator's state of mind(s?). From the beginning though Poe tries to be clear. A manifestation of conscience is vaguely portrayed then more and more madly embodied(but never too concretely) as a rival, a tormenting conscience, a pursuer, named with his exact name(but fcititous therefore as the narrator claims his own to be) William Wilson. Pshizophrenia, irony and esepcially "The Imp of the Perverse" become a real thing, starting in school and culminating in his exposure as a card cheat by this strangely repellig/attracting person. In the end, as in Wilde's "The Portrait of Dorian Gray" stabbing his portrait in the mirror wounds himself.

The second Will Wilson need not be real, is not really confirmed by anyone other. Wilson's voice at the card game, triggered by the gust and darkness is probably only his own. The double becomes more and more just a personal specter. Note "A Beautiful Mind" if you get a chance to see it. The poet William Blake routinely saw and conversed with such "companions". Poe brilliantly keeps it vague so the normal reader can see it as a doppleganger ghost story, whereas the supernatural is not at all necessary. Believe it or not, lack of real clear supernatural elements is the rule in Poe. Symbolism and the divisions warring in the mind are much more important.

The story thus is not hard to follow. Infancy- childhood- school breakdown at adolsescence- adult degeneracy brings back the double as conscience- a final attempt to kill his conscience wounds himself.

-- Anonymous, March 09, 2003

Moderation questions? read the FAQ