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The double personality in Edgar Allan Poe’s tales: William Wilson and The Cask of Amontillado

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  1. Introduction
  2. The narration of William Wilson
    1. Clues to the fact that the 'other' William Wilson had no physical existence
    2. The representation of Wilson's life in Eton and Oxford
  3. William Wilson and The Cask of Amontillado
    1. Montresor: The narrator and main character
    2. Fortunato insulting Montresor
  4. Conclusion
  5. Bibliography

Edgar Allan Poe's stories often reflect some of his own personal problems. William Wilson and The Cask of Amontillado are usually classified with the label ?tales of the double (or evil) personality?. They reflect one of the strangest aspects of Poe's life. He actually had a blurred identity, and his quest to find who he was is visible in the different names he assumed during his early life: born Edgar Poe, he was an orphan at the age of three and was adopted by the Allans. This is whence his middle name came: he took it when he was fifteen years old. Three years later his adoptive father pushed him to enlist in the army, where he wanted to be called Edgar Perry. Poe is also known to have been a heavy drinker and a drug addict, but at the same time he was aware of these vices and tied to fight against them; this is another aspect of his blurred personality.

[...] Anyway, the result is the same: Fortunato (the name means ironically lucky' or ?fortunate one') had no idea that his supposed friend actually hated him, and thus he trusted him until he ended up chained to a wall in the vaults of the Montresors But he had no way to guess: Montresor was a perfect hypocrite as he even greeted Fortunato in the friendliest manner when they met (p. 202). As they were walking in the vaults, Fortunato insulted Montresor again, telling him that he did not remember how his coat of arms looked like (p. [...]

[...] 14) what happened, but he cannot understand why, because for him, though very low, the voice was real and came from a physical person. Wilson describes the ?Other' as bearing a strong resemblance to himself in every possible matter: name, level of competence in every possible field, date of birth, of entering and of quitting school, height, ?general contour of person and outline of feature' (par. ?gait and general manner' (par. clothes (every time they ?met', they were dressed in the same way), and ?even [his] voice did not escape him . [...]

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