Trapped and Unreliable The two short stories “The Yellow Wallpaper” Charlotte Perkins Gilman and “The Cask of Amontillado” Edgar Allan Poe are stories that appear to be totally different from each other, but are actually very similar; one of those similarities is the theme of entrapment the stories show entrapment on both a physical and a mental level. We see in these two stories individuals that are not only trapped physically but trapped mentally within their own minds not able to free themselves from the chains that are holding them; these circumstances show us that both of the main characters in these stories are unreliable.
The theme of entrapment that is shared by both of these stories really sets the stage for both of them it defines the plot and really is the center of both of these stories. “The Yellow Wallpaper”, concentrates on the narrator’s deep depression and her struggle to get better. The narrator spends her summer vacation confined in a nursery on the top floor of a mansion. This is in an attempt to cure her illness by her husband John, who is a doctor. The room has barred windows on all sides and yellow wallpaper with “sprawling flamboyant patterns” (Gilman 766).
The narrator at first is in disgust with the wallpaper and thinks it is an artistic sin. Then with nothing to do, and her imagination running free, she turns her imagination onto the wallpaper. She uses the wallpaper as a form of entertainment and tries to figure out the pattern. The central symbol of the short story is the wallpaper. The meaning behind the wallpaper represents the narrator’s entrapment and her struggle with depression. Armstrong 2 The yellow wallpaper acts like a mental entrapment for the main character.
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At the end of the story, the main character rips down the yellow wallpaper to release the woman behind the paper. This was symbolic because even though she saw a woman, this woman was her. When the narrator was angry she put that onto the wallpaper, so that is why she ripped the wallpaper down. She was trapped behind the pattern and she couldn’t move from it. This is the point where her sickness has gotten to the worst extent. The wallpaper led her to create her own madness. The main character says in the story, “There are things in the wallpaper that nobody knows about but me, or ever will. (Gilman 774). Not even John knew what was really going on because he was always working and never took his wife’s thoughts too seriously. The yellow wallpaper also acts as physical entrapment to the main character. The wallpaper blocks her into that small room. She feels like she cannot get better in that room. In a sense she can’t get better in that room because of the things preventing her from resting. Her eyes are constantly on the yellow wallpaper; her mind also feels she cannot step away from the wallpaper.
In “The Cask of Amontillado”, The story begins with Montresor dictating the events of 50 years prior to an undisclosed individual. Montresor feels as though the antagonist, Fortunato, has wronged him on numerous occasions. Although these injuries are not stated, Montresor is adamant that vengeance is necessary. Montresor states: “I must not only punish, but punish with impunity. ” (Poe 125) This quote shows that not only does Montresor feel strongly about the actions that must be taken, but also demonstrates the attitude that these actions are warranted.
Montresor, like any other man, is consumed by the desire to avenge his foe. Armstrong 3 There is obvious differences between these two stories, In “The Yellow Wallpaper” there is physical and mental conditions that center around the plot of the story, we see the narrator suffering from paranoia, and other mental conditions she states “So I take phosphates or phosphites-whichever it is, and tonics and journeys, and air, and exercise, and am absolutely forbidden to work until I am well again. ” (Gilman 766), this clearly demonstrates a mental condition.
But in contrast I think in the “Cask of Amontillado” I believe the mental condition of Montresor is created by the abuse that he has received in the past years from Fortunato. In terms of unreliable narrators, the two stories are similar. In "The Cask of Amontillado," the narrator, Montresor, seems to be confessing to the murder of Fortunato, possibly on his death bed, but the reader is never really sure what is real and what has been fabricated by Montresor over the 50 years since the crime happened. In "The Yellow Wallpaper," the narrator is also unreliable.
We get snippets of her story from a journal she has been keeping that chronicles her descent into madness at her confinement in an upstairs bedroom at a house she and her husband are renting for a few months. Throughout her narration, the reader becomes aware of several things that the narrator is not aware of, like her descent into madness. Since she is losing her grip on reality, we too much question her take on the events in the story like one might question Montresor's interpretation of the events in "The Cask of Amontillado. In conclusion, I would like to point out that in either case, the mind is a very powerful force that is capable of driving people in so many different directions, we see the people in these two stories demonstrating very odd behavior for similar reasons, but then again they are totally different in fact. We see Montresor actually commit murder And in the end of “The yellow wallpaper” we see the narrator actually go insane.
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