Representations of Madness in "The Yellow Wallpaper" and "The Black Cat"

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The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is the story of a woman spiralling into madness whilst her physician husband refuses to acknowledge that she has a "real" problem. On the other hand The Black Cat by Edgar Alan Poe is about a man who is initially fond of cats however as the plot progresses he becomes an alcoholic making him moody and violent, which lead him to torture and kills the animals and eventually also his wife. In Edgar Allan Poe’s "The Black Cat," symbolism is used to show the narrator’s capacity for violence, madness, and guilt .The recurring theme present in both these stories is that the main protagonists claim that they suffer or have been taken over by a form of madness. In this essay I shall examine the …show more content…
For Pluto, however, I still retained sufficient regard to restrain me from maltreating him”. He abused all the other animals and even his wife but he never hurt Pluto. The first black cat is symbolic of the narrator’s evil heart. It shows favouritism and obsession with black cats from the start this story, later after he had murdered Pluto, he still went out and realised when he saw the second cat that it is what he was looking for. “What added, no doubt, to my hatred of the beast, was the discovery, on the morning after I brought it home, that, like Pluto, it also had been deprived of one of its eyes.”. The second black cat is symbolic of the narrator’s guilt. This fact about the cat made him hate more simply because he felt guilty of what he had done to Pluto. His guilt and religious torment gives us an insight to his insanity.

The Yellow wallpaper show a similar pattern, the protagonist begins to see and describe herself in the wallpaper. Her view of the wallpaper becomes distorted and she begins to express herself in the wallpaper. “That dim sub pattern, but now I am quite sure it is a woman. By daylight she is subdued quiet.” In the narrators mind her understanding of the wallpaper has increased but she does not realise that simultaneously her mental state is decreasing. However at the beginning she despises this wallpaper “I never saw a worse paper in my
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