Both “ The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and “ Games at Twilight” by Anita Desai, explore on the notion of how the characters feel out of touch with the world around them. The authors of both stories deploy unconventional ways of delving into their protagonist’s psychological minds. Additionally, by reverberating the fundamental themes of the story, as well as through the general use of characterization, the readers develop an understanding of why the main characters are isolated and marginalized.
The “Yellow Wallpaper”, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is described as “ both a haunting psychological story and a feminist masterpiece”. The author successively uses her own experiences to vividly convey to the readers the struggles of being different in society. During the nineteenth century, men “perpetuated an ideological prison that subjected and silenced woman”. In this context, the narrator’s imagination is silenced and repressed, we see this when she was “ absolutely forbidden to write” which ultimately hinders her from any form of intellectual or creative growth, thus leading to her insanity and this subsequently places her as an outcast in her society. However, as the story progresses, though the use of a disjointed stream of consciousness, we realise that the narrator in spite of her husband’s orders writes in a “ secret journal” and gives way to her suppressed imagination. She discovered that the pattern of the wallpaper “ looks like a broken neck and two bulbous eyes” that “ stare at you”; this simile indicates that the narrator’s imagination, according to eminent critics “ threatens to undermine John’s materialistic universe”. This concept reinforces the fact that the character of this story feels out of touch with the world around her, as unlike women during the nineteenth century she is displaying a form of rebellion to her “ domestic prison”. The patterns symbolize the “ heavy opposition” she faces, as a result of her husband, John and it is evident that she opposes her “domestic prison”. Moreover, the wallpaper triggers the notion in the narrators mind, that neither the imaginative nor political world will be able to fully comprehend her imagination. Henceforth, the narrator represents a character that is faced being a social and domestic pariah, and due to this will never be able to comfortably be a part of the outside world.
Anita Desai’s “ Games at Twilight” similarly portrays the story’s central character as one who is alienated and discomforted by the world around him. Desai’s use of imagery arguably “ stimulates the reader’s senses”, thus enabling us to gain a clear perception and understanding of how a child who lacks self confidence and belief can easily feel isolated. This is made evident through her depiction of power that the children seem to proudly possess. The concept of age is stressed on, and it’s apparent that the older children automatically usurp a higher position than the younger ones.
We see this through the stark contrast between Ravi’s “short” legs and Raghu’s “hefty, hairy footballer legs”. We automatically sympathize with Ravi, as on one level, his marginalization is based purely on his physical features and therefore, implying that Ravi’s size prevents his voice from being fully authenticated amidst the other kids.
Furthermore, Ravi unlike the rest of the children felt an “unbearable ache “and was “ silenced by a terrible sense of his insignificance. “. As readers, we are under the impression that he must accept his negligibility, and in some aspects he has experienced a kind of metaphorical “death” of his innocence. We are shocked by the immense amount of pain Ravi goes through, which unequivocally conveys that Ravi is on a “ different wavelength “ from the other children. Ravi’s melancholic thoughts and feelings, as well as the lack of understanding of the other characters prevents him from comfortably interacting with the world that he is encompassed by.
Both stories display series of prominent similarities, notably the isolation the characters feel and face. In the “ Yellow Wallpaper” the narrator mentions that she “ sometimes fancy that in my condition if I had less opposition and more society and stimulus “, which indicates that she is deprived from having a social life of all sorts. The motif further explored in “ Games at Twilight” as Ravi despite being gone for only a few hours “ had disappeared from their minds- clean”. The two stories explore isolation differently, one being externally imposed and the other self imposed, but which conclusively result in the characters as pariahs.
In addition, both stories present a different approach to the theme of fantasy and imagination. This point is justified, as in “The Yellow Wallpaper” the paradox of the narrator’s imagination is revealed as she loses touch with the outer world, yet at the same time comes to a greater understanding of her inner reality of life;” I wonder if they all came out”” of the wallpaper “ as I did”. Her imagination also acts as an opposing force to society and its beliefs, as she is giving power to it and allowing it to oppose all forms of rationalism.
“ Games at Twilight” proves that our imagination can be the primary cause of feeling like an outcast. Ravi imagined “ beating the older children” at a game of hide and seek, and this thought fully occupied him, and towards the end of the story forcefully made him face the “ignominy of being forgotten” and further strengthened his loneliness. Both stories strongly reverberate on the theme of isolation, imagination and fantasy.
“The Yellow Wallpaper” and “Games at Twilight”, employ a psychological development of the protagonist’ mind, which enable the readers to grasp the fundamental elements of isolation and being of the touch with the world.
Both authors vividly convey the powerful emotional impact this has on the life of the characters.
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