Tag Archives: doppelganger

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.

Dracula is a page turner

Bram Stoker’s Dracula is the gothic horror story that put down roots for modern day vampire lore.

In Dracula, lawyer Jonathan Harker is sent to Transylvania to close a deal on the sale of a house for Count Dracula in England. Confined to a limited number of rooms in Dracula’s castle, Harker goes  exploring where he discovers siren-like creatures and Dracula’s dark nature. Harker eventually escapes, goes nearly mad, and convalesces in a hospital where fiance Mina Murray retrieves him and marries him. They return to England to find Mina’s friend, Lucy, mysteriously ill from blood loss. Harker and Dr. Seward enlist a retired Van Helsing for help. They replenish Lucy’s blood nightly to no avail. Eventually Lucy dies, her body claimed by Dracula. It’s not long before Mina falls prey to the same “illness,” with one strange symptom–she has a connection with Count Dracula. Harker, Seward and Van Helsing use this connection to ambush Dracula and kill him for good at last.

Fan of vampire stories that I am, I had always meant to read the original Dracula, but never got around to it. But after watching NBC’s Dracula, I needed to go back to the archetype to see which characters and events were borrowed from the original and which were new.

In NBC’s Dracula, the count assumes the name Alexander Greyson and pretends to be an American newly arrived in England on business. In a grand spectacle opening, Greyson holds a party at his mansion where he introduces his guests to free, wireless power which sends the oil magnates into a tizzy. At this gala is socialite Lucy Westenra who has invited her friend and medical student Mina Murray and Mina’s boyfriend, reporter Jonathan Harker. When Dracula sees Mina he sees his wife’s doppelganger and is determined to have her, but not by force. To that end, he hires Harker as his assistant, puts him up in a mansion and pays him enough to marry Mina and live happily ever after. The idea is to keep Mina close and gradually insinuate himself into her life. Pursued by the Order of the Dragon, an ancient organization whose members are involved in (among other things I can’t figure out) maintaining a power monopoly and killing vampires, Greyson’s goal is to punish members of the Order for their role in making him what he is today.

Other than character names and the time in which the story takes place, there is little comparison between the original book and the television show. In the book, Dracula has no alter ego and there is no mention of Mina the doppelganger. TV’s Renfield is Dracula’s manservant, a far cry from Stoker’s raving, bug-eating lunatic and Stoker’s Van Helsing is out to kill Dracula, not form an unholy alliance with him in order to seek revenge on the Order of the Dragon. Reading the book  also shed some light on other supernatural works, including  an explanation as to why the brothers on Supernatural bear the last name Winchester and the origin of the title “Vampire Diaries”, adopted because most of Stoker’s novel is told in journal or diary format.

The novel is a page turner at times, boring at others, but worth the time to read.

The series picks up pace midway through episode two and becomes the television version of a page turner. I binge watched the first three episodes and regret not watching the fourth as well (but Once Upon a Time was about to begin and priorities must be set).

Are you watching NBC’s Dracula? What do you think?