March 12, 2011
Narrative Unreliability and Symbolisms in “The Tell -Tale Heart” and “The Yellow Wallpaper”
“The Tell -Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe, was released in 1843. It is one of Poe’s shortest stories and provides a look into paranoia and mental deterioration. “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, was released in 1899. This story also provides a look into mental deterioration and had been misinterpreted when it was first published. The Poe and Gilman stories discussed in this essay will help readers comprehend the credibility of the narrators and the different symbolisms used to create informative yet suspenseful content.
In “The Tell -Tale Heart,” Poe delivers his story through an obviously mentally ill man, which is very similar to the character in “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Gilman. the mental illnesses the narrators are suffering from make it difficult to differentiate between actual events or from those that occur through the wild imaginings of the narrator. Of the two stories, “The Tell -Tale Heart” is more open about the madness the narrator is experiencing right from the beginning because of his frequent denials.
“How, then, am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily--how calmly, I can tell you the whole story.” (Poe, p37)
In “The Yellow Wallpaper,” Gilman gradually develops the obsession and the disorder in the narrator. The narrator describes the house they have moved into for the sumer in the beginning, “‘The most beautiful place”! “It is quite alone, standing well back from the road, quite 3 miles from the village.” (Gilman, p326) As the narrator examines every inch of the house, she comes to the wallpaper and thats when the obsession begins. “I never saw a worse paper in my life.” “One of those sprawling, flamboyant patterns committing every artistic sin.” (Gilman, p326) It is here where she describes the wallpaper at length and begins her descent into...