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The Doppelganger Effect: Dickens, Heredity, and the Double in The Battle of Life

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Most critical accounts of the double in literature emphasize the psychological dimensions of the concept—that the double sets up a relationship between the self and its projected image, or between the self and the other, that it addresses the inherent duality of human nature. This essay suggests that there is another way to account for Dickens's obsessive depiction of the double in his fiction. Using the 1847 Christmas book, The Battle of Life as prooftext, I argue that Dickens's use of the double is analogous to his fictional use of heredity, which he understood as a process of circularity and unending duplication from one generation to the next. For Dickens, doubling erases death in much the same way as the repetitions of biological heredity nullify the irreversible impact of extinction.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2011-06-01

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