Plot summary

The narrator and protagonist of the story, Hermann Karlovich, a Russian of German descent and owner of a chocolate factory, meets a homeless man in the city of Prague, whom he believes is his doppelgänger. Even though Felix, the supposed doppelgänger, is seemingly unaware of their resemblance, Hermann insists that their likeness is most striking. Hermann is married to Lydia, a sometimes silly and forgetful wife (according to Hermann) who has a cousin named Ardalion. It is heavily hinted that Lydia and Ardalion are, in fact, lovers, although Hermann continually stresses how much Lydia loves him. On one occasion Hermann actually walks in on the pair, naked, but Hermann appears to be completely oblivious of the situation, perhaps deliberately so. After some time, Hermann shares with Felix a plan for both of them to profit off their shared likeness by having Felix briefly pretend to be Hermann. But after Felix is disguised as Hermann, Hermann kills Felix in order to collect the insurance money on Hermann on March 9th. Hermann considers the presumably perfect murder plot to be a work of art rather than a scheme to gain money. But as it turns out, there is no resemblance whatsoever between the two men, the murder is not 'perfect', and the murderer is about to be captured by the police in a small hotel in France, where he is hiding. Hermann who is writing the narrative switches to a diary mode at the very end just before his captivity, the last entry is on April 1.

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