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The Vampire Diaries

What Exactly Is a Doppelganger?

When Katherine (Nina Dobrev) first appeared in Mystic Falls, the pronouncement that she was Elena’s doppelganger had us trying to recall our high-school English days for a definition. According to the Oxford English Dictionary the German word — roughly translated to double-goer — means “the apparition of a living person; a double, a wraith.” Just what TVD needs. More wraith.

For further learning, we headed over to Encyclopædia Britannica, which explained, “The concept of the existence of a spirit double, an exact but usually invisible replica of every man, bird, or beast, is an ancient and widespread belief. To meet one's double is a sign that one's death is imminent.” Bad news for our favorite vampire lover!

Elena’s in pretty good company, literarily and historically. E.T.A. Hoffman’s The Devil’s Elixir, Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s The Double, and Edgar Allan Poe’s William Wilson all feature bad-news twins showing up to wreak havoc. Percy Bysshe Shelley not only wrote in his poem “Prometheus Unbound” about meeting his own image, he told his wife, Mary, that he had actually seen a figure of himself many times, including a few weeks before he died. Spooky! And even Abraham Lincoln saw two faces in his mirror on more than one occasion.

So what have we learned from today’s lesson, class? Unless you have a long lost twin out there somewhere, à la Sister, Sister, seeing another version of yourself seldom ends well.

Sources: Oxford English Dictionary, Encyclopædia Britannica, Wikipedia

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03.9.2011 / 03:13 AM EDT by Jenny McGrath
Related: The Vampire Diaries, Gossip, Elena Gilbert, Katherine Pierce

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