Two Drovers and William Wilson
“William Willson” and “The Two Drovers” suggest a link between identity and aggression. What threatens a characters sense of self in these stories? Why do certain characters react to perceived threats to their identities as they do? “The Two Drovers” by Sir Walter Scott focuses on an Englishman and a Scotsman in a tale revolving around nationality. The author characterizes them both as proud individuals, while also noting their individual talents and temperaments, but the most prominent trait in both main characters is pride for their own countries.
Hence both are presented as national stereotypes, and it is from this that the author is able to build upon and highlight the growing misunderstanding which is the true essence of the story. It is however, their pecuniary and vocational interests that allow them to find the common ground on which they base a mutual respect for each other. For example, when English and Scottish cattlemen are droving livestock together “… hey co-operate on the journey with one man as guide and interpreter in the Highlands, and the other in England, Robin Oig and Harry Wakefield form a partnership of mutual advantage. ” , when this partnership falls prey to what could almost be described as a comedy of errors, they are then forced to revert to their respective social values and customs to fatally resolve what is essentially a commonplace misunderstanding. These differences, propelled by the force of pride, culminate in a true tragedy.
Harry Wakefield, with his short fuse and strong fist and Robin Oig, with his Scottish pride and secret ambitions both possess too much pride to back down from a heated situation, and ultimately die as a result of a simple misunderstanding. On the other hand in Edgar Allan Poe’s “William Wilson” shows that every person experiences conflict between their will and their conscience. Reasonable people recognize that both of these are components of their mind, but William Wilson does not, Poe effectively uses the Gothic doppelganger technique to show the violent conflicts within Wilson’s soul.
Poe shows that the will and conscience are two distinct, but inseparable, parts of the complex human mind. Wilson never understands that the will and conscience are both within him, but Poe communicates this to the reader clearly. Conscience and will together make a whole person, while the lack of one can create a disturbed individual like William Wilson. William Wilson is a much more complex figure than he himself realizes.
In the final battle scene he writes he “felt within his single arm the energy and power of a multitude”. He feels this because within him are his will, his conscience, and every other part of his soul. Wilson doesn’t understand the bonds tying him to the other Wilson, still he writes: “Wilson and myself were the most inseparable of companions. ” Wilson doesn’t realize the irony in this statement is that regardless of how hard he tries not to be, Wilson will always be his companion.