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Compare the way Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Edgar Allen Poe use 1st person narrators in their short stories. What effect does this style of narration have?

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Introduction

Compare the way Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Edgar Allen Poe use 1^st person narrators in their short stories. What effect does this style of narration have? In "The Yellow Wallpaper" By Charlotte Perkins Gilman and "The Black Cat" By Edgar Allen Poe, two short and sinister stories, 1^st person narration is used by both authors to create atmospheric tension and unease. By using 1^st person narration, a story told through the eyes of one person present in that story, the authors can get far more intimate and detailed in the individual characters feelings and emotions. This makes it an invaluable style of writing if the readers are intended to empathise with the character. It is controlled voyeurism, peering into another's consciences and seeing the world through their eyes. In the case of baleful stories such as these, this technique can have a great effect on the way atmosphere and tension is created in the story. ...read more.

Middle

The style of diary-type writing is kept the same throughout, and although the quality never varies, the unease comes from the increasingly peculiar fascinations that are the topic of the journal (the wallpaper, for example); From; "The color is repellent, almost revolting; a smouldering unclean yellow..." An innocent, if somewhat disapproving comment on the colour of the wallpaper, to such ravings as: "The front pattern DOES move--and no wonder! The woman behind it shakes it!" The reasoning becomes increasingly irrational and far fetched, compared to the cold logic from the narrator of "The Black Cat". The atmosphere and sense of unease is greatly affected by the ability to see into someone else's mind. Using a 1^st person narrative in this context only adds to the overall ominous and immoral feeling of witnessing such events, to be witnessing them at the hands of the criminals and victims. Poe uses it to create a more fearful yet explainable chain of events; "I detail with awe, nothing more than an ordinary succession of very natural causes and effects." ...read more.

Conclusion

Gilman draws on personal experience for the writing of this story, so it would also be an apparent reason to write in the first person. Poe uses the urge to observe and explain to create a character that could only elucidate and justify his own actions in the first person; "FOR the most wild, yet most homely narrative which I am about to pen, I neither expect nor solicit belief." Insists the narrator, intent on telling us anyway. The voyeur comes into play as we are captivated by this person's tale of woe and misfortune, told in many ways. To look into lives, minds and out through eyes of someone else but you is extremely tempting, even when only offered in writing. Both authors exploit this, but in different ways. In these stories, Poe and Gilman have used The first person narrators to great effect. These particular stories are much more suited to the 1^st person than the third, because they all require reasoning and self-justifications that a 3^rd person narrator could not provide with the same sincerity. Two very different, but equally dark stories are both set off perfectly by their narrators. ...read more.

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