Monday, November 4, 2013

Gothic Fishbowl #2: "William Wilson"

If you are choosing to participate via comments on our class blog today, be sure you adhere to the same discussion expectations you would if you were in the inner circle:  respectfully challenging your classmates' thinking, basing your assertions on textual evidence, etc.

There is not a finite number of times you need to contribute; rather, I will check to see that you are thoughtfully and consistently contributing.  If you wait to post until 20 minutes into our fishbowl or you post once and are dormant for 15 minutes, that indicates that you're not using your time thoughtfully. If this is because you're a slow typist or perhaps you struggle with the multi-tasking nature of this activity, choose another way to show your understanding . If lack of focus continues to be a problem, you will be asked to hand-write a response to our next fishbowl or to verbally participate only.


A couple of things to keep in mind :
  • This is an academic assignment.  It should be properly written and proofread rather than assuming the appearance of a text message.
  • If addressing one person's post, respond to that discussion thread.
  • Support your thinking with evidence from the text
  • Contextualize question in specific passages or plot points

30 comments:

  1. I wondered if anyone had connected how this story was a Gothic piece... I noticed several times that the narrator spoke about how he was- and that it was his hereditary that made him the way he was... for example, page 1 paragraph 3

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  2. During this story, Edgar Allen Poe expresses William Wilson's feelings and annoyance at his life. Wilson has extremely dark intentions and pursues his "plans" of evil through his actions.

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  3. So did anyone notice any parallels between the duality of the William Wilsons in this story and the twins in The Fall of the House of Usher?

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    1. The William Wilsons in the story had a somewhat love-hate relationship. The narrator goes back and forth between hating him and saying he is an inseparable companion and that they had an intimate relationship. Basically, he can't live with him and he can't live without him. The twins in "The Fall of the House of Usher" had a similar relationship. They seemed to have an almost too intimate of a relationship, yet in the end, Roderick tried to kill his sister and his sister killed him.

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  4. @ElizabethE.. I think there is definitely a connection between the characters, they play off each other to create the story. Each person in the pair defined each other, you could not have one without the other.

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  5. (Lindsey A) The very first sentences of the story are "Let me call myself, for the present, William Wilson. The fair page now lying before me need not be sullied with my real appellation." This immediately shows the reader the level of self-hatred the narrator has. He is so ashamed of himself that he sees the paper before him as worth more than him and he doesn't want to taint it with his impurity. Throughout the entire story we feel the self-hatred he has. Do you think that this came from his "other person" (Wilson #2) or do you think that he created this other person because of his hatred for himself? (Basically, which came first?) Why do you think so?

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  7. @ElizabethE
    Yeah I think "The Fall of the House of Usher" has relevance to this story. I saw that there was an abrupt ending in both of the stories. These endings both involved the death of an illusion or a person. There was also a common description of the houses in both stories. Why do you think these focuses are important to Poe?

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    1. I think these focuses are prominent in Poe's stories because these are the traits that he saw in the world around him. He dealt with a lot of trauma and hardship in his life and I think he saw the world as very dark and sorrow-filled. I think the settings he creates are reflections not only of how he saw the world but also of his feelings. They are very dark and eerie.

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  8. @ Lindsey A, I believe that William Wilson #2 was created by Wilson due to hatred of himself because it gives him a way to express his anger as if it were another person, rather than himself. It took some of the pressure of of him to think that their was another person to blame.

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  9. Maddison, one thing that really stood out to me was that Poe used the word "gothic" twice in the story to describe. Once on the first page to describe the steeple and then again on the second page when he talks about the windows. Was this term used as a name of this time period, during? I also noticed the mysterious aspects of this story that are iconic of The Gothics.

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  10. @LinseyA, I think that he wrote this after everything happened and he has his self hatred because of Wilson #2. Wilson #2 showed Wilson #1 his faults which in turn caused his self hatred. Whenever Wilson #1 was taking part in something bad, Wilson #2 showed up.

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  11. Lindsey, I think Wilson #1 created Wilson #2 as a way to keep himself in check. Perhaps he subconsciously felt himself in need of someone or something to remind him of what was right. He needed a better moral compass.

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  12. On the bottom of the last page, Poe said " You have conquered, and I yield. Yet, henceforward art thou also dead - dead to the World, to Heaven and to Hope! In me didst thou exist - and, in my death, see by this image, which is thine own, how utterly thou hast murdered thyself". What was the purpose of using this quote at the very end of the story?

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  13. @LindseyA I think he created the second person to deal with himself. If the secondary William Wilson was in fact his conscience, I think he separated it from himself so he wouldn't feel the guilt from the realization that he is this horrific person. It reminds me of how in the Secret Window (not sure if any of you have seen/read that story) the main character creates a separate personality to deal with his impulses to kill his ex-wife. In both cases they create an alter-ego to cope with the darker parts of themselves.

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  14. Bennet, I think the purpose of holding this quote for the end was to allow the reader to guess the identity of Wilson #2. The sense of mystery is one of the things that gives the story its Gothic genre. I also think it is a very grand way of ending the story. It's dramatic.

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  15. Brady Bronstine: Throughout the second half of the story, the original William Wilson is unable to see his doppelganger's face. Why is it that he is unable to recognize the face, yet all of the other traits are still apparent to him? One idea that I came up with was that now he no longer fears the physical resemblance as he once did, but how the emulated form of his conscience constantly reminds him of his wrongdoings and reassures himself of his own guilt.

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    1. I think he wasn't able to see his face because if he were, it would be his own face that he would see, and then he wouldn't be able to tell himself that it was a separate person. His mind wasn't able to make up a different face for this other person, so he just blurred it out.

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  16. So the inner circle has talked some about the similarities between Poe and William Wilson. We've identified that William Wilson has quite a bit of self-hatred so do you think that trait is also mimicked in Poe's feelings towards himself?

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  17. @BennetD:
    Poe is expressing how in killing his own conscious, William Wilson also killed a part of himself. Wilson had set out to exterminate this person who was a part of his character and personality. His conscious identified right from wrong, but Wilson wanted to be able to commit crimes without feeling guilt. This caused him to "kill" his conscious in a very realistic way.

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  18. What did you think about the constant relation to a house in both "The Fall of The House of Usher" and "William Wilson"?

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    1. I believed that a house in both short stories represented a sense of confinement to the characters' free will.

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  19. @ Brady Bronstine, William Wilson is unable to recognize the second Wilson due to the fact that the William Wilson #2 represents himself. He was created to help cope with the anger that he had held about himself. It shows that now without his conscience, Wilson is a different man. He can no longer know the difference between right and wrong. This effects every aspect of his life. He is no longer recognizable to himself.

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    1. I do agree with the fact that the second Wilson was symbolic to his conscience, and that he was unable to recognize himself after he had killed him. However, in the referenced passage earlier, the conscience was still alive. While still having a conscience, why is it that he was unable to see his alter ego's face?

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  20. Throughout the story he talks about how much he detests Wilson #2, but at the end of the story we learn that his namesake was his conscious. Why did he hate his conscious? What did he have against him?

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    1. He hated his conscience because it was always showing him up and proving to be a better person than him. It also always stopped the narrator from getting away with anything bad which made him hate himself for trying to do them in the first place.

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    2. @Sarah, Do you ever have the urge to do what you want rather than what is right? I think that comes into play here... Whenever Wilson is doing something that he wants, though it is not right, Wilson #2 comes to stop him, so Wilson never gets the chance to fully do what he wants.

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    3. I think Wilson wanted to feel that he had the freedom to do what he chose to do. He didn't want to have to feel guilt for his actions and in doing so he "killed" his conscious. Even though this is most likely impossible, he wanted to feel relief.

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  21. @ Elizabeth E, I do believe that Wilson and Poe shard similar feelings toward themselves. Though the cause of death is unknown, it is speculated that suicide might be the cause of death. He also has had his wife die and never really knew his mother or father. He could have been blaming himself about everything that had went wrong in his life. This is based on the warm up activity.

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    1. FYI you can also click "reply" below comments so its clear you're replying to that person.

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