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Literature / William Wilson

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Let me call myself, for the present, William Wilson. The fair page now lying before me need not be sullied with my real appellation.

"William Wilson" is a short story written by Edgar Allan Poe in 1839. The titular William Wilson is not actually named William Wilson but we're going to call him that because his actual name embarrasses him. Wilson's weird adventure begins during his school days where he finds another student with the same name as him, who was born on the same day as him and looks just like him. Wilson narrates us as he goes through his life and his mysterious "friend" seems to keep following him.

A short film adaptation of this story directed by Louis Malle is included in Anthology Film Spirits of the Dead.


Tropes in "William Wilson":

  • Card Sharp: This profession is one of the ways William Wilson likes to scam money from people.
  • Doppelgänger: The main theme of the story of William repeatedly meeting his other William.
  • Evil Twin: Our narrator believes the other William Wilson is his. However, in reality William Wilson himself is a Villain Protagonist.
  • Identical Stranger: William Wilson at first believes this to be what the other Wilson is.
  • No Name Given: An usual for Poe aversion also the name given isn't his real one.


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