“The Tell -Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe, was released in 1843. It is one of the shortest stories Poe wrote and takes a look into dysteria and mental health issues. “The Yellow Wallpaper” written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, was released in 1899. This story also looks into mental health problems and one a different note from tell tale heart, it talks about feminist issues.
In “The Tell -Tale Heart,” Poe tells his short story through a crazed man, which is very similar to the character in “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Gilman. The mental illnesses the main characters suffer make it hard to know which events are real or fake. Of the two stories, Poe’s is more forthcoming about the craziness the main character suffers from. To support this is this line “How, then, am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily–how calmly, I can tell you the whole story. ” (Poe, p37)
In “The Yellow Wallpaper,” the author Gilman steadily develops the craziness and the obsession of the narrator. The narrator describes the house she and her husband have rented for a few months. The narrator describes it has “‘The most beautiful place”! “It is quite alone, standing well back from the road, quite 3 miles from the village. (Gilman, p326) As the narrator strolls around the house she comes to the room she is to have bed rest in and becomes disgusted with the yellow wallpaper, this when her obsession begins. “I never saw a worse paper in my life. ” “One of those sprawling, flamboyant patterns committing every artistic sin. ” (Gilman, p326) As her obsession grows she begins to weave in and out of different issues and always coming back to the horrid wallpaper. “But these nervous troubles are dreadfully depressing. ” “I suppose John never was nervous in his life. He laughs at me so about this wallpaper! ” (Gilman, p327)
The reliability of both of these narrators stories is not good because of how they tell them. In “The Tell Tale Heart”, for example the narrator is telling us what he believes to be unbearable. “Now this is the point. You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing. But you should have seen me. ” (Poe, p37) Poe makes the reader question if the narrator is believable or actually insane. The narrator tells his story as if it was an interview or a one on one talk. Which makes it harder for us to decipher what is real and what is fake.
Gilman however wrote her story in the form of journal entries, making the credibility of the narrator\’s tale also in question as seen in Poe’s story. “I did write for a while in spite of them; but is does exhaust me a good deal—having to so sly abut it, or else meet with heavy opposition. ” (Gilman, p326) She is not honest about writing with her husband, and this proves that she is more than willing to tell her story her way. The symbolisms greatly have an impact on the suspense in each story.
Gilman uses wallpaper to symbolize some sort of text she must interpret and believes it affects her in some way directly. “There are things in the wallpaper that nobody knows about but me, or ever will. ” (Gilman, p330) Halfway through the story the sub-pattern of the wallpaper appears as a woman looking for a way out. “And it is like a woman stooping down and creeping about behind that pattern. ”(Gilman, p330) “And she is all the time trying to climb through. ” (Gilman, p331) The way the patterns and complexities of the wallpaper is described leads one to believe she is avoiding acknowledging her own realities and foreshadowing the course she will take.
Gilman’s story symbolizes women in marriages during the 1800‘s and the ineffective way mental illnesses were treated. “Of course, if you were in any danger, I could and would, but you really are better, dear, whether you can see it or not. I am a doctor, dear, and I know. ”(Gilman, p331) “So I take phosphates or phosphites–whichever it is—and tonics, and air and exercise, and journeys, and am absolutely forbidden to “work” until I am well again. ” “Personally, I disagree with their ideas. (Gilman, p326) The narrator discusses the way her husband (her doctor) is Hawkins 4 treating her illness in her journal but is really unable to voice her true feelings to him about what she thinks she should be doing. The symbolism in Poe’s story is the “old man’s eye’ and the “beating heart”. The narrator in “The Tell Tale Heart” is trying to separate the old man from his “evil eye. ” This could symbolize a type of love and hate relationship the narrator is battling. “I loved the old man. He never wronged me. ” (Poe, p37) “One of his eyes resembled that of a vulture–a pale blue eye, with a film over it.
Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold,” (Poe, p37) The narrator reduces the old man to just his eye to eliminate any motives that could inspire the murder, never acknowledging that the murder will end this old man’s life that he loves. Eyes are the essence of human identity and cannot be separated from the body, and the narrators failure to realize this, further proves his insanity. After the narrator has committed the murder, he has a newly heightened sense of sound, “the beating heart”. He believes the beating heart sound is coming from this old man that he has just murdered and stuffed under the floorboards. My headache and I fancied a ringing in my ears:—”It was a low dull quick sound”. (Poe, p39) “it is the beating of his hideous heart! ” (Poe, p40) Because the narrator is delusional he is unable to discern the difference in his own heart beating in his ears, representing his subconscious guilt and/or fear of the officers finding out the truth, or an epiphany for him to tell the truth. “Villains! ” I shrieked, “dissemble no more! I admit the deed! ”(Poe, p40) Hawkins 5 Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Edgar Allan Poe are accordingly using mentally ill characters in their stories.
Both are using unreliable narrators to tell the stories, and use metaphorical languages and symbolism to create a suspenseful atmosphere. The stories definitely have their own individuality, Poe tells his story over a course of days where Gilman tells hers over a period of months. In any event, both stories captivate the reader from the beginning to end, whether it be from the unreliability of the narrators or what the stories symbolize. Gilman and Poe have truly mastered the art of creating seemingly unrealistic events in to an overall plausible story.