Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide
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Analysis

Literary Devices in William Wilson

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

William Wilson takes an up-close-and-personal look at his double’s features while at Dr. Bransby’s school. And it is not a pleasant experience. “When the bright rays fell vividly...

Setting

The changing setting of “William Wilson” is actually a great structuring device. Each segment of the story takes place in a different, specific location. We start at Dr. Bransby’s...

Narrator Point of View

Unreliable narrators are one of Poe’s trademarks, and William Wilson – or should we say, the man who pretends to be called William Wilson – is no different. For starters, he’...

Genre

This is a Poe story, so we know it’s going to be Gothic fiction. The mingling of the supernatural (William’s bizarre doppelganger) with the real is disturbing and highly effective in cr...

Tone

In a story so dominated by its narrator’s voice, it’s hard enough to find Poe’s tone at all, much less characterize it. But we can look for the places in the text where we are mea...

Writing Style

Poe is generally known for his melodramatic prose. But “William Wilson” is one of the few Poe stories that is surprisingly cheese-free. This might be because the story is about issues o...

What’s Up With the Title?

William Wilson is the fake name of the narrator who tells his story. We talk all about the significance of this name in “Character Clues,” so check it out for yourself.

What’s Up With the Epigraph?

What say of it? what say of CONSCIENCE grim, That spectre in my path? – Chamberlayne's PharronidaYou won’t find these lines anywhere in Chamberlayne’s Pharronida. Scholar Kenneth...

What’s Up With the Ending?

What is up with the ending? William has been pursued by his shadowy doppelganger (ghostly double) across the world for years, and he finally kills him only to find that…he’s killed hims...

Plot Analysis

The narrator introduces himself and prepares to tell his storyWhat we know is that this guy is distraught, lying to us, damned, and apparently about to die. His introduction to this tale and his re...

Booker’s Seven Basic Plots Analysis: Overcoming the Monster

William examines his double’s sleeping faceThe monster in this case seems to be William’s double. We get a better and better sense of who this second William Wilson really is as the narrator re...

Trivia

The narrator explains that he and his double shared the same birthday, January 19th. This was Poe’s own birthday. (Source)Poe uses the dash 85 times in this short story.

Steaminess Rating

Considering this a tale of a man of ungovernable passions consumed by endless nights of vice, it’s a little surprising that there is no sex to be found. The narrator is apparently on his way...

Allusions

Herodes Atticus (34)
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