Doppelgängers are doubles, oftentimes evil ones, that come into people’s lives and often cause great changes. The concept of evil twins comes from doppelgänger. Physical doubles of ourselves are common themes in literature, film, and television.
Dante Gabriel Rossetti painted a work called How They Met Themselves while on his honeymoon with Elizabeth Siddal. The concept was of a couple meeting their doppelgängers in the woods. It shows much shock on the countenances of the couple, as well as fear. It is an odd subject matter for a new husband to paint on his honeymoon. Rossetti and Siddal had decade long courtship that was frought with much drama. Lizzie Siddal was often ill, both with her laudanum addiction and her possible anorexia. Rossetti had mistresses that were among his other models. Together they made some of the most important and iconic art of the Victorian era as members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood!
Many cultures had concepts of doppelgänger. Arthurian legends in the Vulgate cycle had the concept of the true and false Guinevere. The true Guinevere was the daughter of Leogrance and his queen, and the false Guinevere was the daughter of the king and his misterss born on the very same night. They are considered half-twins, meaning half sisters that are born on the same day and look identical. The only way to know that is was the true Guinevere was that she had a crown birthmark on her back that the false one did not!
Soap operas famously take the trope of evil twins, to almost comical heights. I will not look as specific examples here because they are literally too numerous to name! I just felt the need to mention how much the doppelgänger tropes were utilized amongst nearly all soap operas.
In The Vampire Diaries television series based on L.J. Smith’s novel series the concept of doppelgänger that is present in the books is amplified! In the books the fact that Elena and Katherine are nearly physically identical is explained by eventually revealing that they are in fact half sisters who share the same mother who was a Celestial Guardian (a type of angel). In the television show the characters are literal doubles, even given the name of doppelgängers! Katherine was born in 1473 in Romania, and would have a daughter out of wedlock, getting herself thrown out of her family. Five hundred years later Elena was born a descendant of Katherine through the daughter that was taken from her before she became a vampire. Both Katherine and Elena are doppelgängers and are the newest in a line that began with the original doppelgänger Amara. Tatia is another doppelgänger mentioned as having known the Originals when they were still humans. Tatia also had relationships with both Elijah and Klaus Mikaelson! Amara, along with Silas, were the originators of the doppelgänger curse thanks to Silas betraying his betrothed to make himself and Amara immortal. It turned out that both Elena and Stefan were doppelgängers (Stefan being a double of Silas). This was an incredibly complicated show when it came to the usage of doppelgängers!
In the mythos of The Vampire Diaries universe doppelgängers had a very special place magically. Doppelgängers were the key to breaking Klaus’ hybrid curses and their blood was the key to siring more hybrids! This made Elena invaluable to Klaus in season two and three of the show. All of these complicated events made for a show that was so addictive to watch over its eight year run! The spin off The Originals and the third series in the universe Legacies both are well worth watching also!
I hope you have enjoyed this post discussing doppelgängers. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
Note on Image: The image at the top of the post is How They Met Themselves by Dante Gabriel Rossetti. I found the image on dantisamor.files.wordpress.com.
- Lancelot-Grail Cycle (also known as the Vulgate cycle, unknown medieval authors)
- Lizzie Siddal: Face of the Pre-Raphaelites by Lucinda Hawksley
- The Vampire Diaries by L.J. Smith
- The Vampire Diaries (2009-2017)
- The Originals (2013-2018)
- Legacies (2018-current)