Doppelganger: German word meaning “look-alike” or “double walker”, originally meant a ghost or shadow of a person but nowadays it simply refers to a person that is a look-alike of another person. [Taken from www.LiteraryDevices.net]
Remember that Twilight Zone episode called “Mirror Image“ from February 26, 1960? Where Millicent Barnes is waiting for a bus at a depot and sees a carbon image of herself? Millicent saw a doppelganger. In TZ, the other Millicent is an evil version from an alternate reality that must replace the real Millicent in order to stay in this universe.
Don’t remember it? No problem. Here you go.
Love The Twilight Zone!
Back to the topic. The idea of mirror images, or evil twins, has been used in both literary, and genre fiction. Edgar Allan Poe’s The Story of William Wilson utilizes the good vs. evil twin to great effect. One twin is, well, evil. And, the other is the opposite. Of course, the good twin is always exposing his twin’s schemes. To boot, the good twin prosecutes the bad one.
A modern day form of this literary device can be seen in many a soap opera including All My Children – Adam/Stuart Chandler played by David Canary. This one went on for 30 years.
With this said, can we writers use the doppelganger without bordering on overused tropes? What can be done to make this fresh again? Or, do you think it’s dead in the proverbial waters?
What are your thoughts?