The Psychological Labyrinth in Owl Creek Bridge, Yellow Wallpaper, and Garden of Forking Paths

The Psychological Labyrinth in Owl Creek Bridge, Yellow Wallpaper, and Garden of Forking Paths

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The Psychological Labyrinth in Owl Creek Bridge, Yellow Wallpaper, and Garden of Forking Paths


 For millennia, the labyrinth has been used as a sacred tool for spiritual enlightenment.


Sometimes called a "divine imprint" because of its prevalence combined with its unknown origin,


the labyrinth provides a "transcendent experience of connection and clarity" ("What is a Laby-


rinth") through the act of walking the winding paths to its center. Unlike a maze, which has dead


ends and trick turns, the labyrinth has only a single path leading to and from the center; the


principle of the labyrinth is such that a person must traverse every inch of space before reaching


his/her goal. In this way, the labyrinth subverts the logical aspect of the mind (normally dominant)


and enables the individual to enter a state of mental calmness, allowing him or her to experience


the spiritual benefits of a sort of walking meditation.


       Probably the most famous historical labyrinth is the one constructed by Daedalus to house


the Minotaur in classical mythology. In that case, according to Ovid, Daedalus "built a house in


which he confused the usual passages and deceived the eye with a conflicting maze of various


wandering paths ("Ariadne's Thread"). There is no mention of a specific shape for this "house,"


but traditionally most such mazes have been made in a circular formation. Another famous laby-


rinth is built into the floor of the cathedral at Chartres; the fact that the same design has been


found on coins minted at Cnossus gives rise to the theory that it may be connected to the laby-


rinth of Daedalus and the Mi...

... middle of paper ...

...Garden of Forking Paths.» The Story and its Writer.


       Ed. Ann Charters. Boston: Bedford Books of St. Martin's Press, 1995. 1391-1392.


Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. "The Yellow Wallpaper." The Story and its Writer. Ed. Ann Charters.


       Boston: Bedford Books of St. Martin's Press, 1995.531-542.


Green, Edward J. "Labyrinth."


       (accessed 11/21/99).


Irwin, John T. "A Clew to a Clue: Locked Rooms and Labyrinths in Poe and Borges."


       MasterFILE Premier database from Raritan, Spring 91, Vol.10 Issue 4. <... /




       (accessed 11/20/99).


"What is a Labyrinth?". (accessed 11/20/99).



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