What are the differences of the theme of isolation and loneliness in "The Yellow Wallpaper" and "Cathedral"?
For the narrator of "The Yellow Wallpaper," her isolation and loneliness lead her to a total mental breakdown. The narrator has her world reduced from one of work (writing) and family (her two children) to being kept almost as a prisoner. We see her slip slowly into madness - she has delusions about the woman creeping behind the wallpaper and she notices how the children must have gnawed on the bed post, yet she testifies later that she became so angry that she herself bit into the bedpost. Ultimately, her husband's treatment of isolation and rest for her depression is what ultimately pushes her over the edge and into madness.
Unlike the narrator of "The Yellow Wallpaper," the narrator of "Cathedral" experiences an epiphany regarding his isolation and loneliness. At the beginning of the story, the husband appears isolated - even from his own wife. He appears jealous that the blind man knows his wife better than he does. However, the narrator has a breakthrough when he helps the blind man draw a cathedral. In helping the blind man, our narrator experiences an awakening. He notes that the experience is like nothing he has ever felt before. In this, he may well rescue himself from his isolation and loneliness. The same is cannot be said for the narrator of "The Yellow Wallpaper."