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The emotional and psychological reader’s response in “The Yellow Wallpaper” and “The Blue Hotel”

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  1. Introduction.
  2. Readers responses to a text: Influenced by the narration.
  3. Changing moods of the protagonists.
  4. The theme of madness.
  5. The descent into madness of the two protagonists.
  6. Conclusion.
  7. Works cited.

"The Yellow Wall-paper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and "The Blue Hotel" by Stephen Crane are two short stories which, beyond the colour references in the title, try to develop certain psychological responses within the reader. I will attempt to show how through two different points of view for narration and other sharp differences, they actually challenge the same psychological question for the reader. The issues of narration, solitary and collective perspectives and conflicts, obsession, mood shifts and rise of madness, "genderization" and open conclusions will be discussed. Readers' responses to a text are very influenced by the narration. In "The Yellow Wall-paper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, the story is a first person narration. Moreover, the narrator is homodiegetic, in other terms, she belongs to the story, and she is even the protagonist. Since the readers perceive the text only through her eyes, she becomes very influential. In "The Blue Hotel" by Stephen Crane, it is a regular third person narration in which the narrator is heterodiegetic, that is to say that he or she (although/but there are some clues for a masculine voice) does not belong to the story. Though it will be seen that, even with this seemingly "detached" narration, the opinion of the narrator can influence the reading of the text. With the point of view comes the question of the reliability that the readers have in the narrator.

[...] The two experiences have also gender as a major difference which influences the narration and the readers' response to the text. Indeed, Yellow Wall-paper? tells the experience of madness from a feminine point of view. Charlotte Gilman criticizes the Victorian social oppression of women ?especially with the Cult of True Womanhood- and its very patriarchal aspects. Thus, her narrative can be touching for the female readers of today (maybe even more because of the feminist movements) because it deals with what women were submitted to before they could be free. [...]

[...] Indeed in Yellow Wall-paper?, we could say that the protagonist is not reliable because she is mad (creeping on the floor and over her husband in the very creepy last scene). But at the same time, maybe she was not that mad at the beginning, and they (the physicians) drove her mad with their very special treatment (weight augmentation, sleep, writing and thinking interdictions, special diet, isolation, drug prescriptions In the same way in Blue Hotel?, it can be argued that the protagonist is not reliable because he is paranoiac (with al his obsessions). [...]

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