Friday, October 24, 2008

"William Wilson": Live Blogging


Enjoy discussing "William Wilson" on the outer circle. Feel free to ask questions, make comments, refer to textual passages when possible, and make connections to today's lesson on the uncanny. Remember to use proper grammar and spelling.

79 comments:

marissas said...
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marissas said...

DO you think the narrator of “William Wilson” is insane? Is he similar of different to the narrator of “The Tell-Tale Heart?”

chelseas said...

I have a question...What does this story tell you about human nature? How is it representative of today, or is it?

Oliviak said...

Did anyone think that the opening sentence at first was odd? But then when you go to the end it cleared up.

Madisont said...

MarissaS

--I believe that the narrator could have been insane, and I do believe he is similar to the narrator of "The Tell-Tale Heart."

I think that his insanity gives him a...how would you say it...sixth sense? I also think that he is extremely intelligent, and I believe that his intelligence has to give some credit to his insanity.

chelseas said...

Olivia-Yes this did confuse me. I was really confused at first, and then I sort of ignored it and when I reread the story, then it all made sense.

KiraW said...

As to marissas, I do think that the narrator is insane. he seems as if he dislikes the William Willson just because of his similarities to himself. As for the narrator in the tell tale heart, the narrator wants to murder the old man, just because of his eye. In William Wilson, the narrator wants to kill William Wilson just because he is similar to himself. Almost identical.

morganw said...

Marissa - Actually, I do not think that the narrator of "Willaim Wilson" is insane. I think he just sees things from a different point of view. He focuses entirely on the other part of him to the point that it externalizes. It's kind of like the idea that good cannot exist without evil and neither can evil exist without good.

shannanp said...

So does the narrator have multiple personalities since he said that he could physically see him?

morgant said...

In the second paragraph on the first page the narrator says,

"I would fain have them believe that I have been, in some measure, the slave of circumstances beyond human control."

This definitely reminded me of people in our society thinking that a power outside of ourselves that influences us or causes us to do a certain action. It also reminded me of "Unnatural Killers" and "The Tell-Tale Heart." They felt like an outside force was influencing them to commit murder. What do you guys think? I have seen this in the past few stories.

chelseas said...

Did anyone really think anything of the quote at the beginning of the page? I didn't really realize the significance of it until the end.

mollyd said...

I like what the inner circle brouhgt up. How could other people see William Wislon or does the narrator think that other people see him?

EmilyJ said...

Wouldn't the narrator realize that he was just imagining Wilson throughout his life by people telling him he's not there? You'd think that his friends would tell him that "Wilson" doesn't exist.

kennaw said...

Marissas~ I think the narrators are both similar in the sense of that they both hate certain people. In Poe's 1st story he hated the old man and his eye, and in his 2nd story he hates the pastor/prinicple. They both are also scarred from something that occured earlier in their life. But, they obviously aren't the same people.

chelseas said...

Marissa-I do think that the narrator was insane in some way. I think that he was like Poe, and he tried express some feelings that were pent up to others.

KateP said...

shannonp- I thought that too, but then in the end he ends up stabbing wilson and sees the blood coming out of his own body. So was it really just himself the whole time?

hannahl said...

morgant- So do you think that people who do not believe in free will are just finding excuses? Do you believe in fate, or free will, or a mixture of both?

marissas said...

Madisont- Thats a very interesting way to think about his insanity. I like that.

I have another question.. Do you think that WIlliam WIlson is a part of the narrator, like a split personality? Or just a figment of his imagination...

delaney n said...
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Madisont said...

MorganT

-- I don't think that it would HAVE to do with an outside force. Maybe it is more of something that is beyond our human explanation. Not that it physically and actually caused us to make a decision and go through with it; but that, this person believes they are more powerful than the ordinary man.

Oliviak said...

Marissas
I think that the narrator isn’t insane he was just realizing the two sides of himself that he couldn't figure out who the true person was. I think it is similar to the narrator of the tell tale heart because you are trying to figure out if the narrator is crazy.

morgant said...

In the first paragraph, I also noticed that Poe compared two opposite things.

"...--and a cloud, dense, dismal, and limitless, does it not hang eternally between thy hopes and heaven?"

He is comparing two different things here. What do you guys think about Poe using comparisons? What is the importance of that in his stories?

delaney n said...

Did it seem to anyone else like William Wilson was so identical to the narrarator except for Wilson was better? It seemed to me that William Wilson was the person the narrarator wished he was. Did anyone else see this?

mollyd said...

Chelsea- Actually to tell the truth I forgot that there was a quote at the beginning but now after I went and looked at it again I do think it really fits the story and is a huge foreshadow.

hannahl said...

emilyj- So you think William Wilson was imaginary, that he did not go to the school or mingly with schoolmates?

melissaz said...

Marissa- I think there is a huge difference between narrators of all 3 Poe stories. Here, it seemed as if he is telling a story, less heavy and dark. It seems to have a very real feeling to it untill the story really progressed. In "The Tell-Tale Heart", from the begining it is extremely odd and the narrator seemed to be truly crazy. In "The Fall of the House of Usher", the narrator seems sane, but it is very dark and depressing. "William Wilson" is the first story that does not give such a heavy, gothic feeling.

morganw said...

On the Inner circle discussion - I think at the end when the narrator kills William Wilson he doesn't just get rid of his conscience, I think when he physically kills that part of himself he takes that burden into his mind where it should have been all along. So it seems to me that William Wilson's entire existence was to eventually be killed by the narrator so that the narrator could get his conscience back (for some reason he was born without one). So really, I don't think that William Wilson was a person, I think he was the narrator's conscience externalized.

morgant said...

Madison- That's what I was getting at. Like in "Unnatural Killers" they thought that the movie influenced them to commit murder. It didn't force them to murder somebody, but it was a power "higher than themselves" that caused them to think that way or something along those lines.

hannahl said...

* Sorry, I meant mingle

KateP said...

chelseas- Now that I look back at this, does this kind of mean that wilson represented the narrator's conscience?

marissas said...

This is Karly-
In the opening paragraph there is a sentence that discribes " a cloud, dense, dismal, and linitless, does it not hang eternally between thy hopes and heaven?" How can this be symbolic to other parts of this story?

chelseas said...

Delaney-I say this too. I agree that it was like a person who he wished he could be. I think that maybe this was his conscience that was riding on him, and that he wished to be a better person than he turned out to be.

shannanp said...

Katep-
That's a good point. However, when William Wilson said, "...how utterly thou hast murdered thyself," I thought that the whole stabbing episode was just a big metaphor to the way the narrator "brutally" killed off his other personality.

Ryad said...

Delany- that makes a lot of sense, I never really saw it that way.

mollyd said...

Delaney- That is a good point I have never thought of that before. It does seem now that I think about it that Wilson is the person who the narrator wants to be. Wilson always seems to be doing everything better than the narrator and that frustrates the narrator because they are so alike yet they are different.

Oliviak said...

Did anyone see wilson as almost the narrator's evil twin? they almost seemed like opposites.

meganu said...

marissas- I didn't see the narrator of "William Wilson" as crazy. In "The Tell-Tale Heart" I definately saw the narrator as crazy. He was so far in denial that he was trying to reassure himself that he isn't crazy. He also contradicts himself when he says he loves the old man but hates him at the same time. This doesn't really happen in "William Wilson". I think the narrator saw the real William Wilson and became him. I think everyone has the idea that the narrator is the real person and William Wilson is the one that became him. In my opinion, it's the other way around. The narrator could've seen all of these people and became them. I don't really see him as crazy for doing this, I just think this is the kind of person the narrator is, he has the personality of a chameleon. When William Wilson whispers to him and pretty much lets him know that he was the same person as before, I think that's just what the narrator put in his mind to reassure himself that he's not the bad guy, he's not the one turning into other people. He wants to reassure himself that William Wilson is the one following him and turning into him.

kennaw said...

QUESTION!!!

I was just thinking, in both of Poe's stories he uses sounds and gives such detail and attention to them. He also has the narrators recollect their past and childhood in some way. How come he empathizes them? What is their significance to the stories? Could this relate to Poe's actual childhood and his feelings of sound and his childhood?

lizc said...

chelseas- I think that the quote is very important. It talks about the conciense and I think that the "man" that appears at the end of the story is his conciense in human form, or possibly even himself, but he does end up killing himself.

Madisont said...

MarissaS

--I believe that William Wilson might just have a conflicting balance in his personality. Not that he has a split personality or is a schizophrenic. More like, he is fighting against his own conscience, but yet, his instincts and brain tell him to do the exact opposite.
Do you get what I'm trying to say?

morgant said...

Out of all of these stories, I never fail to think that an ultimate underlying motion is fear. Does anybody else think this?

chelseas said...

Kate-That was what I was thinking. I thought that maybe this was showing that Wilson wanted to be someone else, and that his conscience was trying to shape him into a different person.

Madisont said...

KennaW

--I truly believe that the narrator's past is a huge part of the narrator's story. Because, we all say, that some tragedy or experience in the past, makes us who we are in the future. Relating this back to a general topic of gothicism, again, the main character in a book or a movie usually has some sort of experience in their childhood, that either makes them evil or allows them to fight against that evil.

EmilyJ said...

Hannahl- Yes, I thought he was imaginary. But I guess I did not think about the fact that he could be real, it was just my gut reaction.

So is Wislon just his conscience? A person? I'm still confused on who he is.

shannanp said...

DelaneyN-
That's an interesing perspective-I actually noticed this too. I think that William Wilson is another personality he has and he has put him into a human form in his own mind, to have someone he can obsess about and strive to be like.

chelseas said...

Olivia-That is exactly what I thought. I was thinking that they seemed like polar opposites, yet distinctly related. I had this idea while reading the whole thing.

mollyd said...

If the narrator killed himself then how come he felt no pain while he was killing himself? How come he only noticed it when he looks in the mirror?

morgant said...

Emily- I thought throughout the story that he was real, but as the story came to an end, I realized that Wilson was his conscience. That's what I think, but it depends on you perspective.

marissas said...

This is Karly-
When I was reading the story I saw William Wilson as a part of the imagination of the narator. Like in the other stories, the flaws of the characters are amplified throught the eyes of the narator. I interpreted William WIlson as a real person but I think that the things the narrator sees in him are partly in his mind.

lizc said...

About the innocense thing... I think that the narrator hates William Wilson because of his innocense, and therefore wants to get rid of him. The narrator has done many bad things and he feared Wilson because of the good that he portrayed.

hannahl said...

emilyj - I think he is a person for all purposes in the story. If you start to think too much about whether this is all made up and what not you get caught up and forget about what the story represents. I think it is more important to realize that Poe is using him to represent good.

Ryad said...

Kenna- I think that he uses their past a lot because your past kind of defines who you become in the future. In The Fall of the House of Usher knowing how Roderick was as a child made his 'condition' seem worse. In William Wilson the narrators past and your understanding of the control he had over others is what gives meaning to his murder of William Wilson.

melissaz said...

Whitney made and interesting point about William Wilson being the good person of the story, the "good guy". Do you believe that is true, he is the good? If so, is the narrator truly evil continually haunted by the only good in his life and history?

delaney n said...

Something the inner circle just said... They said their innitial perception of the narrator was evil. For me, it was exactly the opposite.
-How did your opinions of Wilson and the narrator change from the beginning of the story to the end?

KateP said...

mollyd- That is a good point. Maybe this is more of a symbolic death, like he was killing part of him (conscience).

kennaw said...

*Sorry i also meant to ask how come Poe is all about psychoanalysis?

KiraW said...

Katep:

I think that William Willson very well could have been the narrators concience. Like that is what he was killing. Himself. He hated who he was.

lizc said...

mollyd- I truly believe that Poe enjoys writing as if her were insane. If the narrator was, in fact, insane then he would not feel pain because the idea of him killing something else would be way stronger and overcome the feeling of pain that could possibly exist.

shannanp said...

This reminds me of the movie "Hide and Seek". His daughter sees her father and then she sees his other personality and is able to distinguish between the two. This could be because she knows her dad so well that she can tell when he is acting in a totally different way. This could be the reason that Willaim seems so human, its because he actually is. Maybe the school kids knew him well enough to distsinguish between the two. And when he killed Willaim Wilson, it was because he conquered his personality.
Comments...if it makes sense.

morganw said...

Morgant - Yes, I agree, the underlying emotion is fear, but I also think that the driving force behind that emotion is something completely different. I think it has to do with the loss of innocence. Somewhere behind them in all of Poe's characters' lives something has happened that caused them to go crazy like they did. A loss of innocence caused them to fear. Which is actually an interesting juxtaposition - fear from not knowing (innocence) vs. Fear from knowledge (loss of innocence).

marissas said...
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lizc said...

kenna- Poe has a really tough life and I believe that he vented his angers and feelings through his writing instead of taking it out in real life. Like many people have a diart, Poe's "diary" comes out through the many stories that he writes and shares with us. He definately had some problems.

melissaz said...

Kenna and Madison- I also think why the narrator relys so much on the past and childhood of his characters is because I believe that all of Poe's stories reflect some aspect of his life and history. Poe had a very hard life and writing seems to be a creative outlet for the emmotions of his past. History is a huge part of Poe as a writer, so that's why I think the past is a huge part of his stories as well. Also, reflecting on the past can give great insights into the present and future.

KateP said...

kiraw- I agree. I think that is why he had to look in the mirror to see that he was bleeding, and he didn't feel it.

KiraW said...

Melissaz:

I think that William Willson was the good part of the narrator. Like the angel on his shoulder . . .

marissas said...

This is Karly-

William Wilson is the opposite of the narator. How can this be connected to the use of opposites in the fall of the house of usher?

morgant said...

Marissa- I don't necessarily think that Wilson was the opposite of the narrator. Since Wilson was his conscience, he is amazingly similar to the narrator. Like Mrs. Leclaire was saying, a lot of times you see someone and they are a lot like you but there are some characteristics that you don't like in yourself that you see in the other person so you end up not liking that person. Does that make sense? I don't think they were totally opposites, maybe in behaviors but I still don't think they were opposites.

Madisont said...

Here's what I'm interpreting from the inner circle:

I feel like the narrator hated William Wilson. I feel like he was jealous and at the same time, the narrator thought William Wilson was something he would never want to be.

I find him growing throughout the story, and finding that William Wilson might be someone that he actually wanted to be like. At that point, the narrator's jealousy becomes exemplified, and that's when I see the hate.

I think he saw the flaws in himself magnified by William Wilson, but he also hated the assurance behind William's demeanor.

Oliviak said...

Delaney
I thought that the narrator was a good person at the beginning and then near the end he was bad. Just because of all the things he did near the end he turned bad and lost all his innocents.

chelseas said...

Toward the beginning of the second page, the narrator is discussing the school campus. "...The grounds were extensive, and a high and solid brick wall, topped with a bed of mortar and broken glass, encompased as a whole...". I was wondering if the walls were symbolic of a larger idea. I was thinking that they represented the idea that he felt trapped in some way, maybe by his conscience. What do you guys think?

marissas said...

Madisont- Yes that makes a lot of sense to me, but there is still a part of me that believes the narrator has an alter ego or split personality. In the text it says "It was my antagonist —it was Wilson" which makes me believe they are the same person.

melissaz said...

Karly- Oh my goodness, I never made the connection that William Wilson and the narrator are opposites, but in an odd way. They have some great similarities, but also extreme differences. I can see how William became the good of the narrator, the one that kept tabs on every aspec of his life. I still am not sure whether William was a real person, his imagination, or a ghost.

marissas said...

This is Karly-
Ya morgan that makes alot of sense. I was thinking of the twins and how they are simular in alot of ways but also there are things in them that are contrasting.

morgant said...

Chelsea- I also commented on that paragraph and I thought the same thing. It was so apparent that it seemed like a gothic setting, but I also thought that it made it sound like the narrator was trapped. I definitely had that thought.

EmilyJ said...

morgant- I agree with you. Wilson seemed real throughout the story until the very end where it was obvious that he wasn't. Maybe he became so obsessed with himself that he developed this conscience.

How do you think Wilson came about?

KateP said...

chelsea- That's a good point. I think that it very well could represent that. The campus with how large it is sounds very gothic.

melissaz said...

Madison- I see your point, but while the narrator seemed to utterly hate William, he also was very intrigued and seemed genuinly interested in this character with such extereme similarities and differences to him. I think that part of him wanted to hate this character, but the other was completely interested.

morgant said...

Karly- Yea, like Madison and I? Haha, we are so different yet very alike in some ways. To me it seems more different, but you never know!

Madisont said...

MarissaS

--That's true, but at the same time, antagonist can also mean evil person, meaning different person that is intending to do the opposite of the protagonist.

If the narrator sees himself as the protagonist, then he would see William as an antagonist.