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“The Yellow Wallpaper” and “The Tell-tale Heart” have in common gothic elements, unreliable narrators and portraits of mental illness.
Both stories are very gothic. Gothic elements include things that make the story dark or spooky. In this case, the madness adds to the gothic nature of the stories. So does the setting. The yellow wallpaper and the house both seem spooky. They make the reader uneasy. Mentions of the vulture eye and the woman trapped in the wall are gothic and disturbing.
Each story has an unreliable narrator. An unreliable narrator is one who cannot accurately describe the events of the story due to madness or youth. In this case, madness prevents either narrator from describing what is happening in a realistic way. Instead, all of their observations are colored by their madness and we don’t know what do believe. Notice that neither narrator has a name. This adds to the uneasiness and distance.
“The Yellow Wallpaper” and “The Tell-tale Heart” do both involve narrators who suffer from mental illness. In each case, the narrators themselves don’t seem to realize it and arguably neither does anyone they interact with, until it is too late. The old man clearly does not see any risk in the narrator in “The Tell-tale Heart,” and the narrator’s husband in “The Yellow Wallpaper” does not seem to realize how far she’s gone until he sees her crawling the walls and faints.
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