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Unreliable Narrators in Yellow Wallpaper and Tell-Tale Heart

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Unreliable Narrators

Everybody longs for people who they can trust; they long to be understood by and be desired by others. For instance, same news is transferred by the news outlet in different ways depending on whether the news outlet is trying to appeal towards a Liberal audience or Conservative audience. This causes the news to be distorted by painting the news in favor of the audience who watches the news. This creates a divide between people and makes them unable to agree and understand each other because they lack perspective. There is a commonality in both the short stories by Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ and Edgar Allen Poe, ‘The Tell-Tale heart’. They are both told in first person point of view which restricts the potential of finding inconsistency in the story by the reader since the information is coming from just one source, our narrator. It increases the chance of having an unreliable narrator who may be holding back on information, telling truths or lies to the reader. Both narrators admit to being ill but want the readers to trust them, understand their situation and be desired or considered by the readers as a reasonable person.

Empathy and Sympathy are two different things. Empathy is described as the understanding of how others feel. While Sympathy is described as feeling sorry for someone else. Jane straight up says, “ You see he does not believe I am sick! And what can one do? ” (Gilman, 647). The ability to be able to understand and to admit to her mental problems immediately gives her validity as a rational and an honest person. The unnamed narrator tells us, “So you think that I am mad? A madman cannot plan. But you should have seen me. During all of that week I was as friendly to the old man as I could be, and warm, and loving” (Poe, 65). He tells us to trust he is not a madman based on the action he has done so far. The action he commits sure does reveal us him to be the insane one later on. The ironic contradictions lead us to not trust him, yet he himself believes in these delusions. Both of them want to convince us desperately that they are sane. The Lies which are difficult to bear are the lies people tell themselves. By trying to convince us what they are saying is the truth not only reassure themselves but also lighten the burden of the lies they are carrying. As if repeating the lies will make it the truth.

Human beings as a social animal, need communication in their life to function socially and mentally well. By communicating, we understand each other's point of view and feel relieved to have expressed the frustration. Jane does the same with us stating “I get unreasonably angry with John sometimes. I'm sure I never used to be so sensitive. I think it is due to this nervous condition” (Gilman, 648). She wants us to understand she is not herself because of her condition and her real self is not so weak. It is a reasonable argument on why her action may be abnormal and self-contradictory in different parts of the story. If not for the condition, she will never be acting moody towards John. Similarly, The narrator of the Tell-tale heart is much more subtle

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