"A Psychoanalytic analysis of the Gothic 'double' in the works of Edgar Allen Poe, Robert Louis Stevenson and Oscar Wilde
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This dissertation explores the figure of the 'doppelganger' within the Gothic works of Edgar Allen Poe, Robert Louis Stevenson and Oscar Wilde. From a psychoanalytic perspective, it uses the theories of Sigmund Freud’s 'The Uncanny' (1919), 'The Unconscious' (1915) and Jacques Lacan’s 'Mirror Stage' theory (1953). Chapter one highlights the terror the 'uncanny' creates within Poe’s 'William Wilson'. It analyses the ways in which the doppelganger exemplifies elements of the 'uncanny' as well as the protagonist’s portrayal of these characteristics. William Wilson’s 'double' reflects notions of an uncanny entity as he emulates his exact persona. The fear this causes the narrator, along with his fragmented identity is also explored. Chapter two discusses the role of the 'unconscious' mind within Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886). It particularly explores the way Doctor Jekyll’s secret desires manifest during unconscious moments and Victorian society’s restrictions regarding such transgressions. It will also explore Freud’s suggestion that the unconscious mind often represses feelings forcing them to materialize in to the conscious. This mirrors both Jekyll’s suppression of his desires and the eventual creation of his 'double' Mr Hyde. Chapter three explores the ways in which the main protagonist Dorian Gray exemplifies aspects of the 'Mirror Stage' theory and how this impacts on his development, particularly his inability to connect with others. It will also discuss the notion of selfadmiration that the 'Mirror Stage' theory anticipates, and how this propels Dorian Gray in to a life of debauchery and internal turmoil.
BA (Hons) English and Modern History
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