Double is Trouble

Twins in A Jest of God
  • Elizabeth Waterston


Stories of the double — whether stories of twins, of look-alikes or of double inhabitants of a single split personality like Jekyll and Hyde — appeal to us all. In the author, presumably, as well as in the reader, they release tensions between divided aspects of being. Margaret Laurence uses the twin-motif in A Jest of God1 subtly but persistently. Using it, she keys into an archetypal force like that released through folklore or myth. From the time we meet the ‘Venusian twins’, silver-blonde images of seductive young femininity, through the moment when we hear about the unmarried girl who has given birth to twins (‘twice as reprehensible as one’) we move toward a central focus on the mystery of Nick Kazlik’s twinship: a correlative of the doubleness in Nick — and in many other aspects of the rich, mysterious, funny world that Margaret Laurence created in this novel.


Happy Ending River Street Unmarried Girl Nobel Prize Award Feminine Mystique 
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  1. 1.
    Margaret Laurence, A Jest of God (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1966).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Martin Gardner, The Ambidextrous Universe (New York: Basic Books, 1964).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    James Watson, The Double Helix (New York: Atheneum, 1968).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    R. W. Sperry, ‘Hemisphere Disconnection and Unity in Conscious Awareness’, American Psychologist, vol. 23 (1968) pp. 723–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    J. Levy, ‘Differential Perception Capacities in Major and Minor Hemispheres’, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, vol. 62 (1968) p. 1151.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique (New York: Norton, 1963).Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Nancy Bailey, ‘Margaret Laurence and the Psychology of Re-birth in A Jest of God’, Journal of Popular Culture, vol. 15 (1981) pp. 62–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 9.
    Rachel DuPlessis, Writing Beyond the Ending (Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1985).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Elizabeth Waterston 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth Waterston

There are no affiliations available

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