Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)

Literally, double-walker. While a protagonist and his/her Double may have no "blood" relationship, a doppelgänger is always intimately connected to the person in whose footprints he walks. A doppelgänger may therefore be a Ghost double, or an Astral Body tied to its flesh mirror; and – again unlike the double – may be a projection of the original person whose likeness it takes or mocks (see Parody). The doppelgänger is more common in Supernatural Fiction than in Fantasy. Robert Louis Stevenson, in Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1866), H G Wells, in The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896), and Bram Stoker, in Dracula (1897), vividly (and differently) dramatize the polarities between these two aspects. Almost invariably, the doppelgänger represents that which has been repressed.

In 20th-century fiction, and in fantasy as a whole, many of the functions of the doppelgänger have been taken over by the Shadow. [JC]


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.