Study Guide

William Wilson Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

By Edgar Allan Poe

Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

Anticipation Stage and ‘Call’

William examines his double’s sleeping face

The 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 reveals more information. What seems at first to be a coincidence of similar names turns out to be much more.

Dream Stage

Partying it up at Eton

Things seem to be going well for William Wilson after he flees school and heads to Eton. He engages in vice unimpeded by the nagging whispers of his ghostly foe. For a moment, it seems as though he really has escaped the monster.

Frustration Stage

D--n that conscience.

And then, the double shows up again. This is supposed to be the stage in which we come face to face with the monster, but this is not the case in “William Wilson.” Instead, the second William Wilson remains a shadowy figure.

Nightmare Stage

The masquerade ball

The nightmare stage is where the final big battle goes down between the protagonist and the monster. In “William Wilson,” this masquerade scene constitutes this stage. William finally faces his double and comes face to face with the horrifying fact that he is only part of William himself.

The Thrilling Escape from Death, and Death of the Monster

William stabs his conscience

Yes, this happens before the nightmare stage, which just means that “William Wilson” doesn’t perfectly fit the mold. It’s interesting that William slays the monster, yet is still tormented by feelings of guilt at the story’s start. We have to wonder, then, if he effectively killed his conscience or not.