Sunday, January 04, 2009

The Double

The Double is a philosophical thriller by the Portuguese Nobel Laureate Jose Saramago. The life of Turtuliano Maximo Afonso, the lonely and thoughtful history teacher, suddenly changes when he finds out that one minor actor is utterly identical to him. With bewilderment Turtuliano sets off the journey of finding and meeting his double, eventually to wonder which one is the double? Himself? Or the actor?

There are times in the lives of us human beings, when we realize that the life force in our minds which governs our actions is not unified. In other words we, the modern dwellers or the postmodern oppressed and media governed subjects, all have disintegrated personalities. No matter who we are, Mr. Jekyll or Mr. Jackass, there always exists that other half; one that could even put the very us in wonder. We keep betraying ourselves and our loved ones. They throw their arms around us with utter devotion without even thinking which one is being embraced.

In The Double, as it has been shown before in other works of fiction, the other half of psyche is personalized in reality. But yet the novel is quite unique. Although the book broods over the fact that Mr. Hyde could be quite destructive, the theme of the novel is unique in that it declares what destructs and destroys is not Mr. Hyde in itself. But the obsession that Dr. Jekyll could find with him.

Turtuliano Maximo Afonso is a lonely teacher who becomes obsessed with his double. His double, Antionio Clara is personalized as a minor actor. Life’s a play and us merely actors. In The Double the Shakespearean theme is raised into a more tragic state. Life is a play in which the lonely dweller is struggling to find his identity. Eventually the dweller seeks his double only to realize that the double is another pretending actor. Eventually the doubles take over and throws his gauntlets at the antihero.

What Saramago is trying to say is that if by any chance, we come to win over our doubles; we are ironically left lonely and forlorn. Saramago concludes that without this struggle of men with their dual or multiple identities, life would be hard to live. The irony here is that we constantly suppose that our split personalities hinder us from achieving oneness and a true sense of self-identity.


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