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Poe vs. Gilman Essay

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William Grover Professor Dozier English 111,884 05 December 2010 Poe vs. Gilman Both Poe and Gilman were successful in showing how the main characters of their short stories, “The Tell-Tale Heart,” and “The Yellow Wallpaper,” create their own identities through their use of syntax and point of view. The authors’ characters use the first person view to narrate both stories, which support the unreliable narrator. If stories were to be another point of view, the reader would not have gotten an understanding as to exactly what Poe and Gilman were trying to portray.

Since the writers had formed the narrators’ credibility, it adds obscurity and leaves room for questions in the audiences mind. In Poe’s “Tell Tale Heart”, the main character speaks directly to the audience. “You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing. But you should have seen me”. Poe also intensifies the writer’s emotional state of mind by the use of first person. “I could scarcely contain my feelings of triumph”. “They were making a mockery of my horror! -this I thought, and this I think” Gilman’s character, on the other hand, writes as if writing in a journal.

With each new entry, her thoughts grow seemingly more delusional, she begins to believe more and more in her imagined illness. At the start of the story, her thought are still rational but somewhat disoriented. “I take phosphates or phosphites- whichever it is- and tonics, and air and exercise, and journeys, and am absolutely forbidden to ‘work’ until I am well again”. The first person view brings us within reach of the writer’s delusions. “I have watched John, when he did not know I was looking, in come into the room suddenly on the most innocent excuses, and have caught him several times looking at the paper and Jennie too.

I caught Jennie on it once”. The narrator’s use similar syntax to bring the audience into their thoughts; the choppy sentences not only guide the rhythm of their thoughts, but also their illogical consciousness. Right from the start “The Tell Tale Heart” introduces the characters insane thought process. “True! – Nervous- Very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why would you say I am mad? ” Poe’s syntax captures his characters mental attitude. Along with syntax, the author uses parallels to allow the reader into his characters thoughts.

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Poe writes his story using a stressed out type of syntax; however, Gilman uses it to show her characters decline into delusion. She begins, “it is very seldom that mere ordinary people, like John and myself, secure ancestral halls for the summer”. The narrator is calm and shows no sign of delusion. As the story unfolds, the narrator becomes tired, and her sentences become shorter and much simpler. “I pulled and she shook. I shook and she pulled, and before morning, we pulled off yards of that paper”.

Personification is defined as a figure of speech in which inanimate objects or abstractions are endowed with human qualities or are represented as possessing human form. That is what Poe and Gilman use to bring their stories to life. The narrator of “The Tell-Tale Heart” describes the eye around which the story revolves, as a “vulture,” and the “Evil Eye,” In reality; it is only a glass eye, “all a dull blue, with a hideous veil over it”. All through the story, the main character states that he has nothing against his victim, but only his eye. In the story “The Yellow Wallpaper”, the wallpaper is the focus of the narrator.

To the main character, the paper takes on a life of its own. “In the places where it isn’t faded and where the sun is just so- I can see a strange, provoking, formless sort of figure that seems to skulk about behind that silly and conspicuous front design”. Like Poe’s eye, Gilman uses the wallpaper as a symbol of the main character and the decent into delusion and insanity. Although the both authors use similar styles of writing and methods to deliver a sense of mental instability, their stories have their distinctions, which include the contrast of violence to lethargy, which comes from the authors background. ”

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