A Dark Mirror: Duality and Reflections in Stephen King's Writers
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Stephen King is well known for popular horror fiction but has recently been addressed more thoroughly by literary critics. While most studies focus on horror themes and the relationships between various characters, this thesis explores the importance of the author characters in three works by Stephen King: Misery, The Dark Half, and The Shining. The introduction gives a background of Stephen King as an author of popular horror fiction and discusses two themes that are connected to his author characters: doppelgängers and duality, and the idea of the death of the author. The death of the author is the idea that an author's biography should not affect the interpretation of a text. Implicit in this idea is the notion that the separation of an author from his work makes the text more literary and serious. The second chapter on Misery explores the relationship between the author and the readership or fans and discusses Stephen King’s divide caused by his split between his talent as an author of popular fiction and a desire to be a writer of literary fiction. The third chapter concerning The Dark Half explores Stephen King’s use of the pseudonym Richard Bachman and the splitting this created within himself and the main character of his novel. The last chapter includes discussion of The Shining and the author character’s split in personality caused by alcohol and supernatural sources. Studying the author characters and their doppelgängers reveals the unique stance King takes on the “death of the author” idea and shows how he represents the splitting of the self within his works.