Black Swan (2010 Film)

The Double Entendre of Doubles: An Exploration of Doppelgängers in 'Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde' and 'Black Swan' College

In modern times, the term doppelgänger colloquially refers to anyone who looks like or acts like another person. While this is not a grand departure from the word’s origin, it neglects the original connotation of evil associated with a doppelgänger. In fact, the Oxford English Dictionary defines doppelgänger (under the English adaptation of “double-ganger”) as “The apparition of a living person; a double, a wraith.” This definition, however, is the one interpreted by gothic writers in films and novels outside of the colloquial setting of the doppelgänger of one’s self one might find perusing Instagram. In the story of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, the doppelgänger trope almost perfectly delineates between good and evil through a gruesome physical and psychological transformation, setting the standard for the use of doubles in modern art. The 2010 horror film Black Swan, directed by Darren Aronofsky, on the other hand, twists Jekyll and Hyde’s definition of the doppelgänger to include a less black-and-white use of doubles, reflecting the change in connotation of the term as a whole over time.

The word doppelgänger approximately translates from German to “double-goer.” While the word...

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