John Herdman: The Study of the Double

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In his critical essay “The Emergence and Development of the Double Theme' and 'The Russian Double” John Herdman explores the numerous varieties in which the concept of the ‘double.’ He described that the Romantics see the double most often when the “protagonist [are] confronted with an embodiment of the dark forces from within their own natures” and they associate this concept with the idea of Fate. They argue that because the double stems from within, the protagonist’s inability to escape their destiny is synonymous to an act of Fate. Within his piece, Herdman noted that Philosophy has also placed the ‘double’ in a view tailored into what Kant subscribed as “good and evil … equally real and equally at home in the human soul, … [struggling] between reason and the evil and irrational, in which reason must prevail if the good is to survive and flourish” (Herdman). Herdman also touches on the idea `Doppelgänger' which was coined by Jean-Paul Richter. However, while it was Richter was inventor of the term, it was Ralph Tymms, in his work Doubles in Literary Psychology, who “rightly asserts that ‘Jean Paul’s conception of the double is never profound, and sometimes it is quite trivial.’” The true double or Doppelgänger is defined as a “second self, or alter ego, which appears as a distinct and separate being apprehensible by the physical senses, but exists in a dependent relation to the original” (Herdman). The second type of double adapts characteristics of Dostoevsky and has been referred to as the ‘quasi-double’ by Joseph Frank. This type of double occur in numerous forms, however, “always have an unambiguously independent existence within the fictional scheme” or in other words “characters who exist in their own right, but refl... ... middle of paper ... ...ones 286). From one viewpoint dreams can be classified into three categories. The first are those that are both “sensible and intelligible.” These particular dreams are most often associated with children. The second are dreams that while form connections and have clear meaning, also bring forth curiosity and surprise due to the inability to “fit them into the rest of our waking life.” And lastly, are the dreams in which one’s “mental processes seem to be disconnected, confused and senseless” (Jones 285). In the film, Sarah’s dreams are both sensible and depict evident meaning even though Tom attempts to convince her otherwise which could be seen as refusal to accept his other identity. Mick’s ex-wife dreams can be classified within the second category because while there is meaning within her dreams, they were in no way connected or relatable to her waking life.

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