Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Descent into Insanity

The Yellow Wallpaper was an interesting journey. I think the popularity of this story lies in the credible way the author organizes the protagonist's gradual slide into insanity. Like Bartelby, I started the story completely open to the idea the main character might or might not be crazy. The more I saw of Bartleby, the more I realized his actions were logically connected to some type of principle or philosophy. The more I learned about the protagonist in the Yellow Wallpaper, the more I realized her action shared no rational relationship to reality. No scence personifies her madness better than the scence when the protagonist sees the maid looking at the wallpaper. She freaks out, becoming paronoid that her secret has been figured out. In reality, the maid is curious about where the yellow smudges on the protagonist's clothes originate. In this scence we learn that the protogonist is rubbing herself up and down the wallpaper. We realize she is insane.

But even before this scence, we see it. And the way Charlotte Gillman takes us with her on the journey is insanity is the engenious part of the story. We hear her innermost thought. As the story progesses, the thoughts get more frantic. And choppy. And senseless. And in a way it's entertaining. Perhaps, this is why this story get so much attention in English classes.

No comments: