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Madness in The Yellow Wallpaper and The Tell-Tale Heart

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Madness in The Yellow Wallpaper and The Tell-Tale Heart

Compare the portrayal and use of madness in The Yellow Wallpaper by
Charlotte Perkins Gilman and The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe.
Which story did you prefer and why?

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and the Tell-Tale
Heart by Edgar Allen Poe both describe characters who in the opinion
of other people are insane. The characters' hysterical behaviour due
to their insanity is depicted as the stories progress. The Yellow
Wallpaper was written for a reason to demonstrate how women were
treated in society in the 19th Century. The Tell-Tale heart was
written primarily for the purpose of entertainment.

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and The Tell-Tale
Heart by Edgar Allen Poe have both been written in the first person.
This is for a number of important reasons. In both stories the main
character's descent into insanity is effectively portrayed by the
character's increasingly irrational behaviour and neurotic thoughts.
If the books had not been written in the 1st person then the reader
would not know the character's feelings and reactions to events in the
books. By writing the stories in the first person, the reader is able
to step inside the mind of the character and experience what they
think. Both the stories rely on being written in the first person and
would not work if they had not been written like this.

The Yellow Wallpaper is written in a diary form with entries being
added at different intervals: " We have been here two weeks, and I
haven't felt like writing before, since that first day." It is an
account of the character's most personal emotions during the period of
time. She confides in her diary and...


... middle of paper ...


...erred The Tell-Tale Heart for
the following reasons. Firstly I found the woman's account in The
Yellow Wallpaper, although interesting, a little too emotional and
personal to feel comfortable for me to relate to. This may be a gender
response. On the other hand, I found that I could relate more easily
to the dramatic qualities in The Tell-Tale Heart and the progress
towards the final denouement better captured my imagination. This
story also felt more timeless which makes it far easier to relate to.

Works Cited


Poe, Edgar Allan. "The Tell-Tale Heart." Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. Ed. X. J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia. 7th ed. New York: Longman, 1999. 33-37.

Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. "The Yellow Wallpaper." The Norton Introduction To Literature. Eds. Jerome Beaty and J. Paul Hunter. 7th Ed. New York, Norton, 1998. 2: 630-642.


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