First Person Narration In Charlotte Perkins Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper And Edgar Allen Poe's The Black Cat

774 words - 3 pages

First Person Narration in Charlotte Perkins Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper and Edgar Allen Poe's the Black Cat

In "The Yellow Wallpaper" By Charlotte Perkins Gilman and "The Black
Cat" By Edgar Allen Poe, two short and sinister stories, 1st person
narration is used by both authors to create atmospheric tension and
unease. By using 1st person narration, a story told through the eyes
of one person present in that story, the authors can get far more
intimate and detailed in the individual characters feelings and
emotions. This makes it an invaluable style of writing if the readers
are intended to empathise with the character. It is controlled
voyeurism, peering into another's consciences and seeing the world
through their eyes. In the case of baleful stories such as these, this
technique can have a great effect on the way atmosphere and tension is
created in the story.

One advantage of using the first person is so that you can see the
logic and reasoning of the main characters, and how they deal with
their actions and consequences. For example, In "The Black Cat", Poe
uses 1st person narration to try and rationalise the actions of the
man in the story; Hearing the reasons coming straight from the mind of
the character creates a far more convincing motive than thoughts and
actions being described in the 3rd Person.

"I took from my waistcoat-pocket a pen-knife, opened it, grasped the
poor beast by the throat, and deliberately cut one of its eyes from
the socket!"

The cool and logical way the character tells the story, attempting to
justify his actions and explain his situation, creates a feeling that
would not be possible to create in any other narrative. Gilman uses 1st
person narration in a very similar way in "The Yellow Wallpaper", But
instead of having the narrator reflecting on what has been, she uses
the first person's rationalising and contemplating to depict the slow
slide into mental disarray. The style of diary-type writing is kept
the same throughout, and although the quality never varies, the unease
comes from the increasingly peculiar fascinations that are the topic
of the journal (the wallpaper, for example);

From;

"The color is repellent, almost revolting; a smouldering unclean
yellow…"

An innocent, if somewhat disapproving comment on the colour of the
wallpaper, to such ravings as:

"The front pattern DOES move--and no wonder! The woman behind it
shakes it!"

The reasoning becomes increasingly irrational and far fetched,
compared to the cold logic from the narrator...

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