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William Wilson by Edgar Allan Poe Review

Title: William Wilson

Author: Edgar Allan Poe

First published January 1, 1839

26 pages, ebook

Rating: 3.8


“William Wilson” by Edgar Allan Poe is a haunting tale that delves into the complexities of identity and the darkness that can lurk within the human psyche. Originally published in 1839, this short story draws inspiration from Poe’s own experiences growing up outside of London.

The narrative is driven by the theme of the doppelganger, as the protagonist grapples with a mysterious figure who seems to be a mirror image of himself. This eerie and thought-provoking work is sure to captivate readers and leave them pondering the nature of their own existence.

About the Author

Edgar Allan Poe is a name that evokes images of darkness and horror, with tales of murderers, madmen, and premature burials. His literary works, including classics like The Raven, The Tell-Tale Heart, and The Fall of the House of Usher, have been in print since 1827.

Poe was a versatile writer, producing short stories, poetry, a novel, a scientific theory book, and hundreds of essays and book reviews. He is credited as the inventor of the modern detective story and a pioneer in science fiction, but he earned his living as a literary critic and theoretician, becoming America’s first great one.

While the characters in Poe’s stories have captured the public’s imagination, so has Poe himself. He is often seen as a mysterious and morbid figure lurking in the shadows of cemeteries and castles.

However, much of what people think they know about Poe is inaccurate. His reputation was tarnished by a biography written by one of his enemies, which aimed to defame him.

The real Poe was born in Boston on January 19, 1809, to traveling actors. He was the second of three children, with his brother William also becoming a poet before his early death, and his sister Rosalie growing up to be a penmanship teacher.

Poe’s parents both died within three years of his birth, and he was taken in by a wealthy tobacco merchant, John Allan, and his wife Frances Valentine Allan, in Richmond, Virginia. Poe’s siblings were sent to live with other families.

Mr. Allan raised Poe to be a businessman and gentleman, but Poe had other dreams. He idolized the British poet Lord Byron and wanted to become a writer himself.

Early poems found on the backs of Allan’s ledger sheets show Poe’s lack of interest in the tobacco business.

Editoral Review

Edgar Allan Poe’s William Wilson is a masterpiece of Gothic literature that explores themes of duality, identity, and morality. First published in 1839, this short story epitomizes Poe’s flair for the macabre and captures his keen understanding of human psychology.

The story follows the life of a man named William Wilson as he grapples with the demons of his past, present, and future. The story opens with William Wilson recounting his childhood and the strange sense of duality he has always felt within himself.

As he grows older, he becomes increasingly troubled by this duality and believes he is haunted by a man who bears an uncanny resemblance to himself. This doppelganger, who also goes by the name William Wilson, appears to be a mirror image of our protagonist in every way, except for his evil intentions.

Over the course of the story, William Wilson finds himself in a series of increasingly dire situations, perpetuated by his own immoral behavior. In the end, he ultimately confronts his own doppelganger and is forced to reckon with the darkness within himself.

Poe’s use of Gothic motifs such as doubles, doppelgangers, and supernatural occurrences add a layer of intrigue to the story that keeps the reader on the edge of their seat. The author’s masterful prose and knack for suspense further add to the haunting and unsettling atmosphere of the story.

In terms of characterization, Poe offers a deep exploration of his protagonist’s psyche. William Wilson is a complex and multidimensional character whose struggle with morality and identity is both relatable and poignant.

The other characters in the story are equally complex and help to illustrate the theme of duality that dominates the narrative. While the story is a work of fiction, it offers an important commentary on the human condition and the dark side of the human psyche.

Readers can draw parallels between William Wilson’s internal struggles and the challenges of modern society, making it a timeless classic that is still relevant today. Overall, William Wilson is a chilling and thought-provoking piece of literature that showcases Poe’s mastery of the Gothic genre.

The story’s compelling characters, intricate plot, and exploration of complex themes make it a must-read for any lover of Gothic literature. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good psychological thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end.