Eng 1123 English Composition II
6 October 2011
The Effect of Surroundings in
“Paul’s Case” and “The Yellow Wallpaper”
In Willa Cather’s “Paul’s Case” and Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper,” readers are introduced to two different characters who have similar outlooks on the living situations that they have each been forced into. Paul and the narrator of “The Yellow Wallpaper” feel trapped by their surroundings, but the way they attempt to solve their problems is different. The authors vividly describe the feelings of the protagonists toward their respective environments, and the use of tone, style and symbolism allows the reader to connect with the protagonists. Readers are shown the influence of the atmosphere a person lives in, whether it is positive or negative. In “Paul’s Case,” Cather introduces Paul as a young student who despises school and his teachers. The only joy he finds in his town comes from his working as an usher at Carnegie Hall and helping his friend backstage at the theatre. These pleasures are taken from Paul when his father finds that he has been spending his time there instead of focusing on school. In “The Yellow Wallpaper,” the narrator begins by explaining she has been brought to the house that her husband is renting so she can recover from the nervous depression that he has diagnosed her with. She is made to stay in the upstairs room because it is larger and more airy. It becomes clear to the reader that what the narrator perceives as her husband’s being “very careful and loving” (p.437, paragraph 28) is actually over-bearing and controlling. The tone of “Paul’s Case” brings the reader into the story and allows him or her to empathize with the frustration Paul feels. When Paul is made to work at an accounting company, he decides to make a break for the life he has fantasized about for years. Once in New York, Paul buys fine clothes and a suite at a classy hotel;...