Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” and Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” are stylistically similar works with several parallels and differences. The two tales juxtaposed portray an overarching theme of mental illness in the 1800s, observing the way society sees and cares for mental disorders. Discussed in this essay are the narrators’ social roles and mistreatment, their motives to become destructive, and the distinctive ways in which they act in attempt to liberate themselves from their oppression and obsession, respectively.
“I was never insane except upon occasions when my heart was touched.” This quote from Edgar Allan Poe portrays the plot in both “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Black Cat” precisely. Both of these tales bring you into the mind of two fascinating narrators. These ghastly short stories written by Poe in the 1840’s are quite different, but they share striking similarities.
Obsession, internal conflict, and underlying guilt are all aspects of being human but when it’s associated with paranoia and insanity it may be just the recipe for the perfect crime as perceived by Edger Allan Poe in “The Tell-Tale Heart”. Poe uses this as one of his shortest stories to discuss and provide an insight into the mind of the mentally ill, paranoia and the stages of mental detrition.
Similarities and Differences between The Tell-Tale Heart and The Cask of Amontillado, both by Edgar Allen Poe
In The Yellow Wallpaper we know the story takes place in a nursery, “It is an airy and comfortable room as any one need wish” (Gilman, 95). Gilman uses imagery to describe the room throughout the story. As the story progresses, the narrator becomes more fixated on the wallpaper and the pattern of the wallpaper. The imagery Gilman uses helps show the obsession the narrator has with the wallpaper. The woman believes the wallpaper becomes different at night as she describes “At night in any kind of light, in twilight, candle light, lamplight, and worst of all by moonlight, it becomes bars! The outside pattern I mean, and the woman behind it is as plain as can be.” (Gilman, 100). In The Tell-Tale Heart, the narrator describes the setting of the murder. We know it takes place in the old man's bedroom as the narrator says “every morning I went to his room” (Poe, 65). Poe then describes how the narrator places the dead man's body in “the boards that formed the floor” (Poe, 66). Later in the story the narrator is driven mad by the guilt they feel for killing the old man. The narrator describes how they hear a sound in the bedroom but it really is just their conscience but it leads to their confession. Poe uses imagery to describe the narrator's panic “I pushed my chair across the floor to make more noise, to cover that terrible sound.” (Poe, 67). In both stories the narrator's obsession is portrayed
People feel guilt after they have eaten more than they should have. Others are obsessed with celebrities and hope to become as beautiful or as rich as them, one day. Now take this further. The “next level” some would say. Edgar Allan Poe does this in his stories, “The Black Cat” and “The Tell Tale Heart.” It is through the power of obsession, guilt and paranoia in which, Edgar Allan Poe reveals how far people would go to hurt others.
Edgar Allan Poe 's The Black Cat and The Tell-Tale Heart are very similar in the way that they portray insanity. In The Black Cat the narrator was an introvert that becomes an alcoholic and becomes “insane” when he starts to not feel any emotions when he does anything, cruel or not. In The Black Cat the narrator did things that many would consider insane, such as taking a cats’ eye out or hanging the cat because you love it. The narrator, despite being an alcoholic, did things that even if you were intoxicated would make you insane to be ok with. The narrator, in a drunken stupor, took the black cats’ eye out, then afterwards, after feeling some remorse at least, decided to hang the cat because he loved it. The narrator got another cat after this and became even more insane in the way he felt about this black cat.
Both stories, “The Yellow Wallpaper” and “The Story of an Hour”, have many things in common. They both talk about the woman who have became severely ill, their overpowered husbands, and trying to find their narrative and freedom. Both women dealt with pain from their illness and sadness in their lives from their husbands. Their husband controls them in almost everything they
Edgar Allen Poe’s “the tell–tale heart” is a better example of insanity because he uses comparison, questioning, and long pauses in the story to emphasize the insanity of the narrator.
Modern artists today generally use images of physical and mental illness in literature. In The Tell-Tale Heart and The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe, both short stories show the usage of illness, madness, and fear. The narrators in both stories try to convince the readers that the characters are physically and mentally ill. Edgar Allen Poe creates these vivid characters which successfully assist the building of plot and ideas. Poe demonstrates how a person’s inner turmoil and terror can lead to insanity through illustrative language.
There are many mental illnesses that would lead to insane behaviors ranging from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder to Schizophrenia. While it is difficult for the average person diagnose mental disorders from such a short story, the narrator likely has Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. The care he takes in every aspect of his nightly stalking show the telltale characteristic of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: “And every night, about midnight, I turned the latch of his door and opened it- oh so gently!” (Poe 1). During this nocturnal ritual, the narrator goes slowly and cautiously enters the old mans room, his work progressing at a snail’s pace. With the caution and methodical prowess of a deft horologist, the narrator stalks his prey. While his meticulous attention to detail isn’t an inherent sign of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, the activity the narrator applies the practice to is what lends to the diagnosis of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and, subsequently his compulsive behavior. Another possible mental illness that the narrator suffers from is Schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that causes the sufferer to hear voices that are not actually there or experience paranoia. The narrator in “The Tell-Tale Heart” hears the sound of a dead man’s heart beat: “I admit the deed! -tear up the planks! -here, here! -it is the beating of his hideous heart!” (Poe 4) After killing the man; chopping up his body; and hiding it beneath the floorboards, the narrator the narrator hears a noise that, at first, he cannot place. The heartbeat of a dead man and his general fear of the old man illustrate his Schizophrenia and his disconnection from reality. These diagnoses are examples of the narrator’s characteristics that prove his
In Edgar Allan Poe’s tales of criminal insanity, the first-person narrators confess unsound confessions. They control the narrative, which only allows us to see through their eyes. However, they do describe their own pathological or psychological actions so conscientiously that they exhibit their own insanity. They are usually incapable of stepping back from their narratives to detect their own madness. The narrator 's’ fluency is meticulous and often opulent. It usually implies a revelation as a defense of sanity. In the tales of the criminal insanity, first-person narrators are the protagonists, focusing on their conflicts with hysteria and law. In The Tell-tale Heart, Edgar Allan Poe uses many symbols such as, the Evil Eye, the watch, the narrator himself, bedroom, and the lantern. He also tries to dehumanize the old man in the short story.
Edgar Allan Poe often demonstrates madness in his short stories. Many times it comes from the first-person narrator. While the narrators are similar in the fact that they are both insane, they also have a lot of differences in the way that they are insane. A great way to compare the way the insanity differs in the narrators, is to compare two of Poe’s stories. Stories such as “The Black Cat” and “The Tell-Tale Heart” do a good job showing the similarities and differences between the insanity in both of the stories, as well as the insanity in other short stories of Edgar Allan Poe’s.
Even being the vastly different stories “William Wilson” and “The Tell-Tale Heart” have a few similarities with regards to the theme. For instance, both stories end in a denouement. Correspondingly, the conscience of the men in both stories makes them do something unexpected. William Wilson, at the end of his story, commits suicide. William Wilson meets his tragic end when Poe writes, ”In a large mirror I saw my own image, dabbled in blood...it was Wilson who stood before me in an agony of death.” It is revealed at the end that there was only one William Wilson. The second William Wilson was a reflection of the first one conscience. The real William Wilson gets so fed up with his concise that the only to get rid of it was by stabbing himself in the chest. On the contrary, the narrator confesses to his unscrupulous deed.”I admit the deed!” (Poe 516). The only reason the narrator confess was to get eliminate the buzzing he heard. “It was a low, dull, quick sound --- much such a sound as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I gasped for breath --- and yet the officers heard it not...It grew louder --- louder --- louder!” (Poe 516). Normally a ringing noise would be heard by everyone in a room but this particular noise could only be heard by a murder. Which makes it indisputable that the noise was the narrator's conscience wanting to confess. The narrator's conscience needed to tell someone about despicable act it committed. The narrator felt so guilty he confessed because of a
Edgar Allan Poe’s stories “The Black Cat” and “The Tell-Tale Heart” have similarities and differences. Some of the similarities are in the way the story was told and the narrators’ mindset. As a beginning, the stories have lots of common things in the way they were told. They are both written in first-person point of view and they both start from the prison. For example the main character in “The Black Cat” said “My immediate purpose is to place before the world, plainly, succinctly, and without comment, a series of mere household events. In their consequences, these events have terrified-have tortured-have destroyed me” (3). Similarly, in “The Tell-Tale Heart” the story is said in the first-person point of view. Therefore, an example of that is “True!-nervous-very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad?”(3). Both stories start from the final and they are both told by their narrator. This is important way in which Poe decided to write the stories and keep the pressure on the momentum in the stories and the reader to be on toes ready for everything. Another similarity in the short stories is the narrators’ mindset. In “The Black Cat” the psychological state of the main character is triggered by an eye. He is removing his cat’s eye to test its love. For example in the text we can find this “I took from my waistcoat-pocket a penknife, opened it, grasped the poor beast by the throat, and deliberately cut one of