Appearance versus Reality in Yellow Wallpaper, Story of an Hour, and Lottery
Authors often write literature to have an emotional impact on the reader. These effects vary from work to work, and they may include happiness, sorrow, anger, or shock. Even authors who try to achieve the same effect may go about it in very different ways. This paper discusses three short stories written to shock the reader, but each uses a different method to achieve its effect. While Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour" uses a sudden shift in plot at the end of a short narrative, Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" gives hints throughout the story preparing the reader for a shocking ending; in contrast, Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper"…show more content… She originally thinks her prison room is "The most beautiful place!" and the bars on the windows are "for little children" (231); however, two weeks later, she thinks the room is "atrocious" (232). Her mental state deteriorates rapidly: soon she believes there is a figure in the wallpaper. The narrator later identifies this figure as a woman trapped behind the pattern of the wallpaper. Ironically, her husband believes his treatment is helping her; however, when he enters the narrator's room at the end of the story, he sees that she has lost nearly all of her sanity: she has torn the wallpaper off the wall to free the imaginary woman trapped behind it. The narrator identifies with her imaginary woman and declares, "I've got out at last in spite of you and Jane. And I've pulled off most of the paper, so you can't put me back!" (242). The final mental state of the narrator in itself is shocking, but it is even more shocking that her husband would lock her inside a room with no human contact and with nothing to do. Most of today's readers are shocked that such a treatment would ever be accepted and implemented, especially by the narrator's own husband.
Families turn on each other and themselves in Shirley Jackson's 1948 "The Lottery," which shocks its readers by showing a town that holds an annual lottery to select a person to stone to death. The story begins on a "clear and sunny" day with