Imagine being kept in a room for months on end, with nothing to do but stare at the wallpaper. Or cleaning a house till it is entirely spotless, in order to eliminate your prints from a murder scene. These events are experienced by the female narrator in "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gillman and Mr William Acton, in "The Fruit at the Bottom of the Bowl", by Ray Bradbury. Both characters descend into complete madness after experiencing these predicaments.
The narrator of ?The Yellow Wallpaper? is a woman who has just given birth and has developed post-natal depression. Because of this, her husband John who is a ?physician of high standing? tells her she must stay in a room in a colonial mansion and is ?forbidden to ?work? until she is well again.? The woman has a feeling the house is haunted even though she is impressed that they are going to stay in such a place for their summer holiday. Once in the room, she notices the wallpaper, which is a horrible yellow colour. Day by day she becomes more obsessed about this wallpaper and begins to see women in the pattern. After asking her husband for consent to leave the room, he refuses and she becomes engulfed by the wallpaper, spending every moment inspecting it. On the day she is due to leave she locks herself in the room and tears the wallpaper off, in order to free the woman inside. This leads her to believe that she is one of the women who has escaped the wallpaper and circles the room claiming ?I?ve got out at last!?
The experience of being locked in a room, against her desire drove her to complete and utter mad...
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...Acton both begin completely sane but become worse as a result of circumstance. They are driven to behaving the way they do because of the way they are treated by other people. The two characters hallucinate and visualise objects that aren?t actually real. One difference is Acton becomes crazy as a result of his own actions but the narrator becomes crazy as a result of actions by others who take control of her fate.
In the two texts ?The Yellow Wallpaper? and ?The Fruit at the Bottom of the Bowl?, two lives are destroyed by circumstance and the relationships they have with others. By the end of the stories the reader is left knowing that the woman could not escape her husband?s control and Acton could not escape the fact that he had murdered somebody. Such insignificant things, a fingerprint and wallpaper, can have the capacity to drive people towards insanity.
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