Literary Devices from A to Z – Brought to you by the letter D




is for Doppelganger





A doppelganger is a character’s double. The two characters have identical looks but different personalities and agendas.

Both The Talisman and it’s sequel, Bleak House, by Stephen King, feature doppelgangers. In The Talisman, a boy discovers his parents are doppelgangers of the king and queen in another universe. Mistaken for the prince, he is drawn into a life or death adventure to restore order to the duplicate world. In Bleak House, the boy, now a man, must once more return to the other universe to impersonate the prince and put things right in the doppelganger universe.

The notion of duplicate universes is also used in Phase Shift. In Phase Shift,  Molly McBride, an archaeologist, discovers an artifact which is the key to the other world. In this scene, Molly meets with Reyes Prefect and she realizes she’s actually traveled to a doppelganger Earth:

“And where exactly is ‘here’?”

He looks confused. “Why, Theran Prefecture, of course.”

That’s not what I meant. “I mean where, geographically?”

“Theran Prefecture resides on the mass of Selene.”

I continue to look at him, trying to process this information.

“On the planet of Gaia,” he offers.

It’s nothing new, nothing I haven’t already read in Prescott’s memoirs, nothing I wasn’t anticipating in the event our experiment worked. Still, I can’t help but wonder: is this actually happening? Am I really to believe I’m on another world?

“You said you were expecting me.”

“Not you, precisely.” He picks at the upholstery on the padding of his chair. “Perhaps someone like you.” He looks up at me. “We knew it was only a matter of time before someone discovered how to bridge the gap from the other side.”

“The gap? I don’t understand.”

“Between our world and yours.”

I must still look confused because he takes it upon himself to explain further: “Every living thing, from the smallest insect to the largest animal, has a life force that sustains it through its existence. It is the phase pitch at which a life force resonates that binds it to its earth.

“And this ‘gap’ you speak of?”

“Our clerisy posits at some point in time, a cataclysmic event ensued on our planet, forcing a shift in the phase of all living things.

“History tells us at the time of the cataclysmic event our world spawned a doppelganger, an exact duplicate. Your world.” Reyes’s explanation was a lot like chocolate: it tasted good, but did nothing to sate the appetite.

“So the ‘gap’ refers to the difference in our…broadcast frequencies?”

“In the pitch of our phase resonances, yes. Your world and mine co-exist, occupying the same space-time, only slightly out of phase. Here, yet not here.

“We have known of your world for some time now, known how to travel between the two worlds as well. In the interest of science, this technology has been banned until your world could discover our existence, learning how to bridge the gap on your own accord. Our clarists posited the coming of this day.”

What doppelgangers have you read about in fiction? Watched on television? Did the trope work? Post your comments and observations about doppelgangers in literature below.

2 thoughts on “Literary Devices from A to Z – Brought to you by the letter D

  1. Tasha

    The doppelgänger that always comes to mind for me was from a children’s TV show called The Ghosts of Motley Hall. It was the first time I heard the word and learned what it meant, so it’s always what I think of :). I don’t even remember what the episode was about, just that there was a doppelgänger.
    Tasha’s Thinkings – AtoZ (Vampires)

    1. admin Post author

      I’ve never seen that show. I have to check it out at some point. I’m amazed at how many kids shows there are out there that are tied to popular culture.

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