The Lottery, by Shirley Jackson, and The Yellow Wallpaper, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, are two very different stories told in very different ways. While both very well written, and enjoyable reads, both of these dark pieces leave a person thinking once they are done. In The Lottery, the narrator is a third party, objective, nigh robotic presence. This seems to work well for the piece, as a first person narrator may not have been able to give as much of the story. The Yellow Wallpaper has an odd first person perspective.
The narrator is not the main character in the story, but rather, seems to be perhaps a personal journal or diary that the main character is writing in. On page 731, line 38, of Literature: The Human Experience, The main character says “I am sitting by the window now, up in the atrocious nursery, and there is nothing to hinder my wring as much as I please, save lack of strength. ” This is said right after “We have been here two weeks, and I haven’t felt like writing before, since that first day. (The Human Experience, pp731 line 37) These two lines bring me to the conclusion that the narrator is in fact a type of journal. Both The Lottery and The Yellow Wallpaper have a common theme; when logic goes astray, the acts people can commit can be seen as heinous, or even frightening.
In The Lottery, Mrs. Hutchinson has lost and is about to be stoned to death. Mrs. Delacroix, who up until this point some may see as a friend of Mrs. Hutchinson, “…selected a stone so large she had to pick it up with both hands and turned to Mrs. Dunbar. “Come on,” she said, “Hurry up. ”” (The Human Experience, pp 356 line 74) This betrayal, in light of the illogical nature of the lottery, is heinous and barbaric. In The Yellow Wallpaper, when the main characters mental faculties diminish and she views herself to be the identity trapped in the wall, she exclaims “I’ve got out at last” (The Human Experience, pp740 line 261). Both of these situations show that when logic fails, things that may be frightening occur.
Both stories, though written in different styles, were written very well. They were an enjoyable read to me and my wife, and while different in many ways, connections are there to be found. In the end, the styles used for each piece was the best suited for the piece. The Lottery needed a more detached narrator with character development of all the characters, and The Yellow Wallpaper worked best with the interesting first person perspective, allowing the reader to see her mind degrade from simple depression to a full on break down.