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How does the portrait of the narraror reveal the realistic style and realistic content...

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keifsta | Student, College Senior | eNoter

Posted April 21, 2012 at 5:36 PM via web

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How does the portrait of the narraror reveal the realistic style and realistic content in the short story, "The Yellow Wallpaper?"

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Michelle Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 21, 2012 at 7:34 PM (Answer #1)

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In works of fiction such as Charlotte Perkins Gilman's short story "The Yellow Wallpaper" a realistic appeal is conveyed when topics from everyday life combine with unique situations that occur to characters that possess universal qualities which can appeal to the average reader.

Since in "The Yellow Wallpaper" the main character also serves as the narrator, her voice serves as the vehicle to build a proper portrait of her. It conveys realism in the way hat she uses both ethos (credibility of her situation) and pathos (she appeals to our emotions at times) through the casual way in which she analyzes her unique circumstances. Her ethos comes in how she describes her situation, and how she explains how she really feels about it: lost, frustrated, and helpless.

So I take phosphates or phospites -- whichever it is, and tonics, and journeys, and air, and exercise, and am absolutely forbidden to "work" until I am well again. Personally, I disagree with their ideas. Personally, I believe that congenial work, with excitement and change, would do me good. But what is one to do?

Moreover, she uses pathos when she "vents" away to the reader the manner in which her situation is slowly building up to a boiling point. The manner in which she does this does not involve complex language, nor over-stated phraseology. She puts out her dilemma with genuine honesty, as if we were her closest friends.

   I am glad my case is not serious!

   But these nervous troubles are dreadfully depressing.

    John does not know how much I really suffer. He knows there is no reason to suffer, and that satisfies him. Of course it is only nervousness. It does weigh on me so not to do my duty in any way!

Finally, when she breaks down and rips out the yellow wallpaper, she explains to us the situation with a hint of humor! She also leaves us wondering...Is she crazy? Is she being funny? Is she still ill, or is she better now?

  "What is the matter?" he cried. "For God's sake, what are you doing!"

    I kept on creeping just the same, but I looked at him over my shoulder.

    "I've got out at last," said I, "in spite of you and Jane. And I've pulled off most of the paper, so you can't put me back! "

    Now why should that man have fainted? But he did, and right across my path by the wall, so that I had to creep over him every time!

All these facts, the way that she states them, and the questions that we come up with, create a wonderful literary interaction that adds to the realism of a story which is completely fictional.

 

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