Structure

The short story “William Wilson” by Edgar Allan Poe begins with a short introduction, in which William Wilson asks the reader to listen to his account, mentioning that he has done great evil, and wants forgiveness before he dies. This represents a narrative hook, as readers are motivated to read on and find out what happened. 

The story also has a circular structure, as William states in the beginning roughly the same words that his double tells him at the end: “Am I not forever dead to the world? – to its honors, to its flowers, to its golden hopes?” (p. 6, ll. 4-5). The beginning also anticipates the ending, as we know from the start William will die.

The story is centered on the inner conflict that William experiences between his good side and his bad side. However, throughout the story, readers are led to think they are witnessing an external conflict between William and his double. 

There are several instances of foreshadowing in the text. For instance, when William mentions his first school: “It was then and there that I first saw, hanging over me, the terrible promise of th...

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