When literature first began to take flight in America, many of the stories written were of the Gothic variety. American society, at the time, seemed to connect with fantasy and reality, therefore many early writers wrote in the Gothic style. Most of these Gothic stories feature characters whose perceptions of themselves and the world around them are abnormal due to drug use, being in a dream state, or simply just madness. In comparing two short stories, "The Fall of the House of Usher" and "The Yellow Wallpaper," it seems that the character's perceptions affect the way the reader understands the events of the story.
Charlotte Perkins Gillman's "The Yellow Wallpaper" is a short story that deals with certain issues that pertained to many women during the nineteenth century. The narrator is a fairly young woman that has just moved into a "temporary" home with her "husband." Her "husband" and doctor, John, has diagnosed her with depression. His prescription is plenty of rest. This refers to the fact that in the nineteenth century, the man was responsible for taking care of the woman both financially and emotionally, while the woman was expected to stay at home. It has been well documented that this type of solitude can lead to an even deeper, darker depression.
The narrator's mind is an interlacing of patterns, similar to the wallpaper. Her perceptions are abnormal and extremely confusing. The story can be interpreted in a completely different way than the woman describes. Perhaps the woman's mind is so jumbled that everything she says is a complete lie. Over and over again, the woman says things that sound a little strange in the con...
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...house, when it is actually the story of his mental state. Madeline and Usher each represent a part of the mind and the narrator represents reason. This is evident because he refuses to accept anything he hears, sees, or senses. Even though he notices "a faint blush upon the bosom and the face" of Madeline, the narrator still continues to bury Madeline, because he refuses to accept what he sees.
In both "The Yellow Wallpaper" and "The Fall of the House of Usher," the narrator's perceptions of events give the readers a completely different sense of events then what is actually taking place. Gilman's narrator tells us that she is living in a house with her husband, when she is actually in a mental hospital with a doctor. Likewise, Poe uses his narrator to tell the reader a story of the Ushers, when the story is really about the Narrator's mind and it's insanity.
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