Identical twins as doppelgangers: braddon's the trail of the serpent and collins's poor miss finch
Ng, Kai Xin
Date of Issue2016
College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
This thesis explores identical twins as a type of doppelganger in Victorian sensation fiction, by focusing on the identical twin characters in Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s The Trail of the Serpent (1861) and Wilkie Collins’s Poor Miss Finch (1872). The thesis investigates how nineteenth-century theories of physiognomy affect the classification of identical twins as doppelgangers, the overturning of common beliefs about identical twins, as well as the significance of the death of one or both of the twins in each novel. Building up on these arguments, the thesis will further illustrate that, although Collins’s and Braddon’s portrayals of identical twins in their novels differ, their ultimate aim is the same – to criticise the lack of appreciation for the unique individual in Victorian society, as well as to emphasise that the power to change Victorian society should begin at the level of the individual.