Representations Of Madness In "The Yellow Wallpaper" And "The Black Cat"

697 words - 3 pages

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is the story of a woman spiralling into madness whilst her physician husband refuses to acknowledge that she has a "real" problem. On the other hand The Black Cat by Edgar Alan Poe is about a man who is initially fond of cats however as the plot progresses he becomes an alcoholic making him moody and violent, which lead him to torture and kills the animals and eventually also his wife. In Edgar Allan Poe’s "The Black Cat," symbolism is used to show the narrator’s capacity for violence, madness, and guilt .The recurring theme present in both these stories is that the main protagonists claim that they suffer or have been taken over by a form of madness. In this essay I shall examine the various symbolism used by the writer's to represent madness.

Madness is mostly represented by both writers through a thing or object. In The Black Cat, eventually the cats become the madness as ...view middle of the document...

It shows favouritism and obsession with black cats from the start this story, later after he had murdered Pluto, he still went out and realised when he saw the second cat that it is what he was looking for. “What added, no doubt, to my hatred of the beast, was the discovery, on the morning after I brought it home, that, like Pluto, it also had been deprived of one of its eyes.”. The second black cat is symbolic of the narrator’s guilt. This fact about the cat made him hate more simply because he felt guilty of what he had done to Pluto. His guilt and religious torment gives us an insight to his insanity.

The Yellow wallpaper show a similar pattern, the protagonist begins to see and describe herself in the wallpaper. Her view of the wallpaper becomes distorted and she begins to express herself in the wallpaper. “That dim sub pattern, but now I am quite sure it is a woman. By daylight she is subdued quiet.” In the narrators mind her understanding of the wallpaper has increased but she does not realise that simultaneously her mental state is decreasing. However at the beginning she despises this wallpaper “I never saw a worse paper in my life”: this shows she is not able to stick a decision. I kept still and watched the moonlight on that undulating wall-paper till I felt creepy. The faint figure behind seemed to shake the pattern, just as if she wanted to get out” .Her madness is in one aspect is shown through the wallpaper.

Yet, voice is another representation of madness, and it is also a large factor to the way madness is represented because of the different writing techniques used such as symbolism, imagery, anaphora, sentence structure, and word order in The Black Cat. Word order is carefully chosen, for example “yet mad I am not” he is unsure of himself and possibly in denial. The writer is revealing to the reader that yes he is mad but the narrator. Considering the word order he is asking us whether he is mad or not. Whilst he is relaying the events of him taking Pluto’s eye out, when he kills him, when he kills his wife his sentences are not as long as his others. The voice portrays that it pains him to repeat what he has done and must get it over and done with rapidly.

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