Entrapment In Short Stories

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The multiple facets of human existence are often times said to be intertwined and relate to each other in extremely complex ways. This concept is discussed in many nonfiction and fiction literary works. In the short stories “Prey” by Richard Matheson, “The Feather Pillow” by Horacio Quiroga, “Black Cat” by Edgar Aleen Poe, and “The Devil and Tom Walker” by Washington Irving, the authors explore elements of entrapment and supernatural beings in order to highlight the lack of control humans have over their physical, mental, and spiritual state. Authors will often include supernatural elements into their literary works in order to further explore the human capacity for evil by introducing nefarious, metaphysical beings into their works. An example…show more content…
In “The Black Cat”, The narrator is mentally trapped “in this felon’s cell” (Poe 3) by the haunting spirit of his cat. This drives him to attempted murder of the cat and accidental murder of his wife. He then physically traps her body in the walls of his basement which symbolized the simultaneous transition and distortion of his mental and her physical entrapment. Another story that clearly illustrates this is “The Feather Pillow” when Alicia, the main character, falls ill and becomes bedridden. While she is lying in bed, feeling as if “a million kilos were pinning her to the bed” (Quiroga 2), she is having hallucinations and nightmares, which put a significant strain on her mental state. As she becomes less in control of her physical body, she also loses control over her physiological being, emphasizing that the physical and mental health of a person is deeply intertwined. A further example of this is in “Prey”, when Amelia is trying to buy herself time while fighting “He who Kills” (Matheson 1), she “thumbed in the button on the doorknob” (Matheson 4), physically trapping herself as her own thoughts and sense of dread ensnare her mind. In this instance of self induced entrapment, the parallel of physical and mental freedom still applies. These authors have used this gothic theme to effectively portray
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