Named from the German for ‘Double-walker’, the centuries-old legend of the doppelgänger may seem like the proverbial evil twin or sinister surrogate force as portrayed in horror fiction or cinema. Given that a true doppelgänger is a duplicate of a real and living person it can be an easy conclusion to reach. Stories about the sudden appearance of a doppelgänger range from a fleeting glimpse from the corner of an eye, to a lonely road, to a double reflection in a mirror. Many other stories relate that the doppelgänger never actually see one another, but are second-hand tales from witnesses close to one of the pair. The Doppelgänger might even benefit the chosen subject – helping out with a task or offer cooperation.
A doppelgänger is liable to appear to anyone before anyone for any reason. Throughout history, several notable people have been subjects of the doppelgänger and some of their stories range from innocent meetings to outright scary manifestations.
Famous Doppelgänger Stories
Catherine the Great
One of the most powerful women of all Imperial Russia was not at all intimidated by many matters of consequence. Even her servants reporting seeing her calmly sitting upon her throne while she lay in bed one night did not faze this dangerous woman at all. Catherine investigated for herself and found the reports to be accurate – she was sitting on the throne. Catherine then ordered guards to fire on the assumed imposter. There were no reports of any harm coming to the spectral image of the Empress, but the real Catherine passed away shortly after the encounter.
Remembered more now for being the partner of Mary, it may surprise people to learn that he was much more inclined to experience the paranormal phenomena of the doppelgänger. Not just once, but many times. Perhaps the most spooky and unsettling of all these encounters was the occasion that he not only saw himself but had a brief conversation with his doppelgänger. Shelley was only asked a single question: How long do you mean to be content? A close friend of the Shelley’s, Jane Williams, lived in a home that overlooked a frequent route walked by the genuine husband. This route led to a dead end and while the doppelgänger was seen entering, he was not spotted departing. Percy Shelley himself was nowhere near to the path used.
Queen Elizabeth I
The final Tudor monarch of the UK is remembered as a level-headed and charismatic Queen that was never too far from controversy. Not long before her death, this savvy royal was said to have reported a sighting of herself lying in state in her own chambers. At the time, this sighting was determined to be just a by-product of possible dementia. However, it was just days later that the Queen passed on.
It’s no secret that one of the more popular Presidents that the United States has elected had more than a passing interest in the paranormal and occult. The night that he was first elected to the Oval Office, Honest Abe, as he became known, glanced into a mirror and was surprised to see a pair of faces looking back at him. One was the normal reflection expected, the other was an older face that looked pale and ghostly. It was said to have been beside his current face. This doppelgänger disappeared when Lincoln rose from his seat but reappeared when he returned to it. His terrified First Lady was convinced that this was a sign of ill-omen – that he would earn a second election victory but not live to see it out. History, as we know now, proved her conclusion to be accurate.
Doppelgängers aren’t exclusive to the rich or powerful throughout history. Other stories on a similar theme have been reported by people worldwide, many of which have chosen to remain anonymous. One of the more curious of these came from a witness who identified themselves as the actual doppelgänger and not the doppelgänger itself. According to this report, the witness’s younger brother was loudly anxious over something that was happening. When the witness was seen at the top of the stairs, the brother went as white as a sheet. The witness was apparently in the bathroom.
Another report from a few years ago had a devastating effect on the witness. The witness reported that the start of one day was fraught with fears of losing their job. Already late when waking, the witness rushed to get ready for work and arrived at the office. Upon arrival, the witness mentally noted the looks greeted when stepping out of the elevator. The account recalled how the loss of the job was paramount to the fears of the witness. Worse news was to come. Someone else was at the cubicle, working away on the computer. When the man looked over, the witness was amazed to realize that he was looking at himself. The man bolted and a chase began… and ended when the latecomer ran around the corner and saw no-one in the corridor. When asked, all co-workers denied that anyone was using the office space during that morning. The witness was so unnerved by this encounter that he quit his job that same week and to this day is worried by his own reflection.
Doppelgängers are more accepted in this day and age than ever before. As frightening as some stories may seem to those involved, there are others that have turned this to their own advantage. Some people have made a living from looking like a celebrity or famous person. There are some celebrity lookalikes that are so convincing, that they are often mistaken for the real thing.
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