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September 22, 2006

Quote Commentary on "William Wilson"

Kristine Park
CompLit 240 Section 003

"And was it only fancy which induced me to believe that, with the increase of my own firmness, that of my tormentor underwent a proportional diminution? Be this as it may, I now began to feel inspiration of a burning hope, and at length nurtured in my secret thoughts a stern and desperate resolution that I would submit no longer to be enslaved."

Page 355, "William Wilson"

Here William Wilson feels a small sense of power. He has found a method to overthrow the second William Wilson. He no longer wants to be under William II's reign. William is controlled by William II's low whispers and irritating pieces of advice. There is a power struggle happening. William tries to look at the situation logically and mathematically. As he increases, perhaps William II will decrease. This is defnitely about a battle raging from inside. It is amazing to see how a fight with oneself can be so fierce and effective at degrading the state of mind.

Posted by krpark at September 22, 2006 01:22 PM


Kristine, I enjoyed this quote and believe that it was a very important one from the story. My only suggestion for improvement would be to maybe break down the quote a little more and define or specify the importance of certain words or phrases within the quote. Good Job!

Posted by: sutterka at September 24, 2006 07:33 PM

It is a very interesting quote and a very deep one to tackle- I commend you on that. I agree with how you analyized it but according to what we learned on what a close reading should be, you need to relate it more to the words and how they are put together rather than what is behind the words connecting it to real life. (I made the same mistake in mine.) Use the words that Poe gave us to talk about the power that you discovered and the analysis of the said power. Good job! -Kathleen

Posted by: kmeaw at September 24, 2006 08:42 PM


I second Kathleen and Katie's remark that you should pay closer attention to the words themselves.

By the way, your discovery that this passage echoes John 3:30 ("He must increase, but I must decrease") is really interesting!


Posted by: bhattach at September 25, 2006 01:07 AM

Sayan's further comments:

Here's an example of how you could pay more attention to the words themselves:

Notice that the first sentence is a question. Is it merely a rhetorical question or a real question? If the latter, why is the narrator in a questioning mood in this sentence? Is he unsure whether his supposition was really "fancy", or whether it was based on reality? If he is unsure of himself, uncertain, then does this uncertainty get reflected in the story as a whole, too? For example, the uncertainty (which is never resolved in the story) about who exactly the other William Wilson was, and where he came from? Are there other instances in the story where we see this kind of uncertainty reflected? For example, perhaps, in the description of the school building, in which it was always uncertain where (in which story, i.e. level), one was?

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