Photo of Stephanie Raper

Stephanie Raper
In the Loop Editor


Literary Unit

Have you ever heard of a Doppelganger? Or met someone with dual personalities? Do you like gothic literature? The students in Mrs. Angela Brown's English II classes at Grenada High School recently explored all of these phenomenon while studying the gothic novel Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Doppelganger, derived from the German language, literally means "Ghostly Double". A doppelganger is one who nearly or completely resembles another. Other meanings of the word equate it with "evil twin", and this is the definition focused on during the unit students completed. According to, a dual personality, also known as dissociative identity disorder (DID), is "a severe condition in which two or more distinct identities, or personality states, are present in—and alternately take control of—an individual." If you have ever read the novel Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde or seen the movie, the good doctor could definitely fall into one or both of these categories.

Students learned that gothic stories are based on people, creatures, or things that terrify others. After reading the novel, students were asked to write gothic essays like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as a creative assessment of their understanding. Students were given a list of options to consider when planning their essay: Will you write about psychological horror (a "normal" person who does horrible things? Or will you tell a tale based on physical horror (a monster, creature or alien that is visibly horrible? After deciding on a theme, students developed their character, chose a setting, and created a plot with a conflict, a beginning, a middle, and an end.

After completion of the essays, students were asked to consider dual personalities and the doppleganger. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a classic representation of these two conditions, even though his condition was brought about by a scientific experiment gone wrong. The case of good and evil is as old as time, and we have all personally experienced both the good and the bad sides of our own personality.

As a final project to wrap up the unit, Mrs. Brown challenged her students to creatively display their own good and bad sides through collages, poems, character sketches, cartoons, or some other unique expression of the dual sides of their personality. Students created amazing projects that included several model heads with one side exhibiting the "good" parts and the other side showing the "bad" parts of the students' personalities. The project offered an alternative assessment of understanding rather than a standard written exam. The creative assessment challenged students to think outside the box and step outside the comfort zone of the ever-present multiple choice test.

Congratulations to Mrs. Brown and her students for taking what could have been just another dull, boring lesson on literary expression and turning it into something that challenged and broadened both their minds and their understanding.