Abstract

Of the many haunting figures that Gothic fiction invokes, none so perfectly encapsulates the mode itself, in all its fantastic incursions of opposing forces and clashing sensibilities, as the literary double. Indeed, the double in Gothic literature helps to push the bounds of subjective tension so central to the genre, as subject and object are most urgently and forebodingly called into question when they appear seemingly identical and disturbingly interchangeable. Poe's mastery of this delicate subjective interplay goes without question. This article complicates the readings of two of Poe's overt doppelgänger tales, “Morella” and “William Wilson,” by factoring the influence of place into the equation of selfhood at the heart of each tale. In exploring Poe's subjective project as a fundamentally spatial one, it suggests that Poe's doubles work in concert with the liminal places they occupy in order to orient the self in more profound ways. Aware of the philosophical work of his contemporaries, Poe utilizes necessarily liminal places in both of these tales as a means to continue this work from a literary direction; Poe's interstitial places work as heterotopic mirrors, therefore offering symbolic terrain for interrogating the limits of subjectivity, while yielding a nuanced critique of the discovery and designation of the self in psychological and literary landscapes.

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