my own spirit
The doppelgänger or double is a feature of gothic tales throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth century. As a literary type, however, the double can have more than sensational uses. Within a year of Frankenstein's publication, for instance, Percy Bysshe Shelley incorporated the figure within the first act of Prometheus Unbound, where the Earth tells Prometheus of a second realm of potentiality that shadows the actual world:
Ere Babylon was dust,
The Magus Zoroaster, my dead child,
Met his own image walking in the garden.
That apparition, sole of men, he saw.
Mary Shelley, too, is concerned with potentiality, both its development and its thwarting, which she pursues on a number of different levels in this novel, projecting the doubling on moral and psychological, but also on mythic and theological, grounds. Up to this point in the novel the theme of doubling has been only hinted at in the intensities of male friendship we have encountered. Here, in directly introducing doubling as a psychological condition, her basic stress is on the self-division and resulting self-destructiveness that, we may now begin to realize, is the driving force behind the arctic pursuit that initiates Victor's narrative.