Friday, November 14, 2008
A doppelganger is a person’s double. You can only see her through the corner of your eyes, and if you dare to look her in the face she vanishes. She’s only a shade of a person, but she’s your exact replica.
William Wilson, in Edgar Allen Poe’s story, meets and competes with his doppelganger in school. The creepy copycat, who even shares the same name and birth date, begins to take on all of William’s qualities down to the whispering voice and the arrogant stride. He is lucky to have someone else to blame for all of his debauchery, but unlucky that no one believes him. As Wilson’s actions become morally reprehensible, the similarities between him and his double increase, ultimately leading to his downfall.
William Wilson’s double is a scapegoat, but other legends claim that a doppelganger is a harbinger of death. When someone close to you sees your doppelganger, legend says you will fall ill. If you were to actually see your own replica you would surely die.
Sometimes I think I have a doppelganger.
We share the same name, and while I’ve never seen her, evidence of her is everywhere. She may be a writer. She may be an actress or a playwright in London—in which case, maybe I’m the doppelganger. Whatever she is, it seems like she’s always one step ahead of me. When I tried to sign up to order pizza on line, she had already used my name. She preceded me on my favorite message board, and now everywhere I turn, my name is being used.
It is a lovely name.
I have no true fear of seeing my doppelganger and falling ill, or having my life usurped by a stranger with the same birthday and name.
Still, it’s my name, and I want to be able to use it to order pizza.