Alter Ego

Meaning of “Alter Ego”

The phrase “alter ego” is a Latin phrase which means “Other I.” In other words, it also means ‘an alternative personality’. In literature, however, it is referred to a fictional character who represents the author’s personality or different perspective of their character. It also means that a person has various facades of his or her personality. Hence, a person acting differently, who is not willing to accept his or her own behavior, may claim that it is their alter ego.

Origin of “Alter Ego”

One of the greatest Greek philosophers, Cicero has coined this term during the first century in Rome. He describes a philosophical construct as a “second self.” Later, Anton Mesmer, who theorized animal magnetism, used hypnosis to segregate the alter ego from the physical body. It happened during the 18th century. Then Freud used consciousness as a reason for alter ego. However, it is confirmed that Cicero coined this term.

Examples in Literature

Examples #1

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel introduced the character of Dr. Jekyll, who transformed himself into his alter ego, Mr. Hyde by using his scientific potion. Mr. Hyde has a very evil person. In fact, his evil nature demonstrates that Dr. Jekyll has a double personality, good as well as bad. Since the publication of the novel, the names have become synonymous of people having dual nature. In other words, it has shown that everybody has an alter ego. Also, according to neuroscience, one person can have multiple personalities and it can switch between good or bad.

Examples #2

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas

This novel by Alexander Dumas is another example of a person having more than two alter egos. Edmond Dantes, following his escape from the prison, reappears at the Count of Monte Cristo who punishes his enemies and rewards his friends. He also becomes Lord Wilmore, an Englishman, to perform some acts of kindness and sometimes even adopts the persona of Sindbad the Sailor. These alter egos show different personalities of Edmond Dantes.

Examples #3

Alter Ego by Gwen Harwood

Who stands beside me still,
nameless, indifferent
to any lost or ill
motion of mind or will,
whose pulse is mine, who goes
sleepless and is not spent?
Mozart said he could hear
a symphony complete,
its changing harmonies clear
plain in his inward ear
in time without extent.
And this one, whom I greet

yet cannot name, or see
save as light’s sidelong shift,
who will not answer me,
knows what I was, will be,
and all I am: beyond
time’s desolating drift.

In half-light I rehearse
Mozart’s cascading thirds.
Light’s lingering tones disperse.
Music and thought reverse
their flow. Beside dark roots
dry crickets call like birds

Gwen Harward’s poem ‘Alter Ego’ is about discovering herself. She recollects her past and her memories and feelings make her question her goal. Eventually, she accepts her destiny along with her alter ego.

Examples #4

Alter Ego – by Kevin Parker

Said the voice from afar
“Don’t you know it doesn’t Have to be so hard
Waiting for Everyone else around to agree
Might take too long
Might take too long

Then it won’t be so hard (It won’t be so hard)
Well it’s true yes but you
Won’t get far telling me
That you are all you’re meant to be
When the one from my dream
Is sitting right next to me
And I don’t know what to do

Oh alter ego

Get them to love you
While they may, depending on your words and wealth
The only one who’s really judging you is yourself
Nobody else, nobody else

If I could part, it wouldn’t be so hard (It won’t be so hard)
Well, it’s true, yes, but you won’t get far telling me

That you are all you’re meant to be
When the one from my dream
Is sitting right next to me
And I don’t know what to do

Oh alter ego

The poet Kevin Parker is the singer and writer of this song from the band Tame Impala. The singer talks about his other personality and also seeks its help. The singer is confused about his feeling while waiting for someone to reciprocate his love. Here, the singer believes that his alter ego or inner self is wiser than him at the moment.

 Examples in Sentences

Examples #1: “I mostly do not speak much in the class as John acts as my alter ego.”

Examples #2: “I don’t understand Sophia. One minute she is smiling and the next she is stares blankly. Maybe she has an alter ego and likes to stay alone.”

Examples #3: “Everyone knows that Clark Kent’s alter ego was Superman. Clark was shy and clumsy which helped him to protect his identity as Superman.

Examples #4: “Sometimes people choose an alter ego and pretend to be someone else on social media.”

Examples #5: Like Superman in DC Comics, Bruce Wayne’s alter ego is Batman. He is a wealthy businessman by day and a crime fighter by night.”