Shutter Island, by Dennis Lehane and The Yellow Wall-Paper, by Charlotte Perkins Stetson

Good Essays
Gothic tales are known for being mysterious and gloomy. Certain elements are integrated throughout the narrative to create the desired effect, and simultaneously suggest other ideas. Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane and “The Yellow Wall-Paper” by Charlotte Perkins Stetson are significantly similar, by the way both settings highlight the idea of madness. The relationship between setting and madness is induced by the display of physical isolation, disturbing elements, and hallucinatory incidents.

To begin, with intent of initiating mystery in gothic stories, the locale is often portrayed as being physically isolated, triggering insanity in the characters. This idea can be demonstrated by the seclusion of the institution for the criminally insane in Shutter Island, as it stands alone on an island, trapping the patients indefinitely. For instance, when Teddy and Chuck were lost in the cemetery during the hurricane, the Warden found them, and Chuck said “it’s an island, boss. They’ll always find us” (154) as Teddy was lost in astonishment. This passage shows that anywhere the patients go, they will always be found, which also demonstrates how the lack of freedom and privacy can drive someone crazy bit by bit. On the other hand, in “The Yellow Wall-Paper”, the protagonist’s room is in “a colonial mansion […] quite alone, standing well back from the road, quite three miles from the village” (249- 250). Additionally, “the place has been empty for years” (250) and that scares Charlotte as she says that it “spoils [her] ghostliness” (250). Moreover, the residence’s seclusion manifests an emotional isolation on the narrator as she mentions that keeping a journal “is such a relief” (255) for the reason that she “must say what [she] feel[s] a...

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...of delusions all along the novel presents an evident relationship between hallucination and lunacy as the mind is being controlled, preventing the characters from having a good sense of self.

In conclusion, gothic literature, identified as the genre of literature that revolves around romance and horror, illustrates nonetheless insanity in several stories such as Shutter Island and “The Yellow Wall-Paper.” As both authors employ physical isolation of the locale, disturbing elements and hallucinatory incidences in the narratives, the reader gradually captures the effect the components have on lunacy. Therefore, all three elements combined confirm the influence of setting on madness.

Works Cited

Lehane, Dennis. Shutter Island. New York: Harper, 2003. Print.

Perkins Stetson, Charlotte. “The Yellow Wall-Paper.” New England Magazine Jan. 1982:

249-263. Print.
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