Insanity vs Leukaemia: A Comparison of The Yellow Wallpaper and A Walk to Remember

Insanity vs Leukaemia: A Comparison of The Yellow Wallpaper and A Walk to Remember

             Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper is a short story about a seemingly normal patient but then her condition worsens as her feelings are suppressed and undermined by the husband. On the other hand, A Walk to Remember, is a movie adaptation of a book by Nicholas Sparks of the same title. Jamie falls in love for the first time but her cancer pleagues her relationship to be cut short. This paper would compare and contrast the two works with each other, analyzing their elements such as plot, characters, symbolism, point of view, and theme.

The Plot

            The two works are bound to have differences in plot, for one, The Yellow Wallpaper is a short story while A Walk to Remember is a movie adaptation of a novel. The pace of the plot of The Yellow Wallpaper would understandably be faster than A Walk to Remember, it is a short story after all. The prologue of The Yellow Wallpaper is starts out at the time when the narrator and her husband just arrived at the house that has a room with yellow wallpapers. The narrator claims that she senses something peculiar with the house and that it may even be haunted “A colonial mansion, a hereditary estate, I would say a haunted house… Still I will proudly declare that there is something queer about it” (Gilman). The prologue of the movie A Walk to Remember is the scene of Landon Carter’s group trespassing inside a water reserve making a prank joke on one of their peers that wants to be part of their group, the prologue ends disastrously because the prank becomes real and the victim is injured seriously. Landon Carter’s gang split up as the police arrive, Landon ends up being caught by the authorities. The prologues of the respective works are opposites, the prologue of A Yellow Wallpaper is light and has that sense of optimism because even if the narrator is revealed to be sick, she is given a fresh start and given a chance to recover from her illness which is yet to be revealed. Unlike The Yellow Wallpaper, the prologue of A Walk to Remember is dark; the gang of Landon Carter plays a prank on an unsuspecting peer, and when everything goes wrong, they just abandon the poor fellow. The only saving grace of the prologue is that Landon shows signs of hesitation before leaving the fallen comrade. The rising action of The Yellow Wallpaper is when the narrator started to secretly keep the journal and when the narrator started in thinking of the many ways of why she despises the room, and the yellow paper in particular. By this time, we could say that the plot of the two works is inversely proportional to each other, because it is now the turn of The Yellow Paper to have its share of negatives. In A Walk to Remember, the rising action is when Landon meets Jamie Sullivan, his classmate since kindergarten but the two hasn’t really talked to each other because of their difference in popularity.  The two are forced to work together because as punishment for Landon’s mischief back at the water reserve, he is required to tutor kids during weekends, Jamie by some divine intervention, or fate, happens to volunteer for the same program. Their meeting is far from being romantic but it would pave the way for their relationship to flourish.

The climax of The Yellow Wallpaper is when the narrator sees the woman behind the yellow paper and identifies herself with the imaginary character. Being inversely proportional, the two works meet in the middle; the climax of A Walk to Remember is when Jamie informs Landon that she has cancer, by this time, the couple are very much in love, the news of Jamie’s illness threatens the relationship. The falling action of the short story is when the narrator becomes completely insane and runs amok on the house, tearing whatever she can of the wallpaper and trying to capture the woman who she thinks she sees by hiding a rope in her room. In contrast to The Yellow Wallpaper, the falling action of the movie is subtle, Landon accepts the fact that Jamie has little or no chance of survival, he just resolved into making their remaining days together as happy as they can. Landon tries to do everything that is in Jamie’s list, including to get married in the same church where her parents were wed. The marriage of Landon and Jamie, Jamie’s death, and Landon’s success in med school is the conclusion of the plot, a relatively happy ending compared to what concludes the short story;  The narrator is engaged in  a sort of frenzy and she locked herself inside the room while she waits for the imaginary woman that she sees trying to escape from yellow wallpaper. Her husband barges in, and to his horror, sees his wife completely insane and then he faints.

The Setting

            The difference between the settings of the both works is that the short story’s setting is limited, again, given that it is a shorter piece of work. The whole plot of the Yellow Wallpaper just happens in one place, in a vacation house somewhere in America, and most of the action happens just inside the room with “yellow wallpapers.” The author did not specify a particular city or state in the short story and it is hard to tell where exactly the setting is because the author did not provide a lot of clues that would betray its origin. The time setting isn’t specified either, readers just know that the time frame of the plot is three months and it includes the fourth of July, other than that, no decade specific details are revealed. It would be just safe to assume that the time setting happens during the same time that the author wrote the work, around late 19th century. The author probably didn’t include setting specific details so that people from different generations and places can relate (in some ways) to the story. The choice of not naming the narrator also adds to this appeal.

            Unlike the setting of The Yellow Wallpaper, the setting of A Walk to Remember is specified; Landon and Jamie are living in Buford, North Carolina. As for the time setting, no exact years are specified but it is obvious that the setting is present day America. The movie’s setting is a lot broader than the short story; the characters are able to go to different parts of the town, from church, school, cemetery, up to the state border in Virginia. Time wise, the majority of the events could have happened within a year, as indicated by the fact that both Landon and Jamie are in their senior year in high school but the move never shows them graduating. The only instance that time jumps significantly is after the wedding of Landon and Jamie, the audience never really sees the deterioration of the health of Jamie that leads to her death. Landon just explains to the audience that Jamie passes “quietly” after spending a very happy summer with each other and that a year (or two) has already passed. Landon is now in Med School and he ponders upon the love that he and Jamie still has.

Symbolism

            The short story is rich in symbolism, though the same couldn’t be said on the movie. Directors limit symbolism as much as possible because they want the audience to instantly get what they are trying to say. The directors try to derive symbolism from the whole movie itself. In Gilman’s short story, the most symbolic object is the Journal. What the readers are actually reading is the journal of the narrator; it gives the readers a personal link with the narrator. The journal symbolizes the personal feelings of the narrator that she is unable to express because of her husband’s oppression. The narrator’s husband forbids her for writing her thoughts, this mere fact that the husband is trying to suppress the feelings of the narrator causes his wife’s illness to be worse despite his observations that she is getting better. Another obvious symbol is of course, the yellow wallpaper; it symbolizes the sanity of the narrator herself. As the wallpaper “changes” so too does the mental state of the narrator. How the narrator sees the wallpaper mirrors her mental health. In A Walk to Remember, the wind symbolizes the love between Landon and Jamie. “Our love is like the wind, I cannot see it, but I can feel it. (A Walk to Remember, concluding scene). The wind also symbolizes faith, Jamie uses the analogy of the wind, to explain the existence of God to Landon. Landon used to be a non-believer before he met Jamie; Jamie argues that the wind is invisible and yet it is general knowledge that it exists.

Point of View

            It is hard to compare works that uses different mediums because criteria for judging one medium may not necessarily fit others. The point of view of The Yellow Wallpaper is, obviously, first person. The author even implied that what the readers are reading is the journal of the narrator herself, making it appear more personal. On the other hand, the point of view of A Walk to Remember is third person limited, like most movies, we see what the characters are doing but not what they think. The concluding scene in the movie is the only part that has a narration; when Landon explains his love for Jamie, other than that, the rest of the movie is done in third person.

Themes

            The theme of Gilman’s story is all about the empowerment of women. In the story, the narrator is powerless against the will of her husband, all she can do is secretly write a journal because of her husband’s “oppression.” Although her husband means well, he does not realize that his means of helping his wife is causing her more pain that leads to her mental breakdown. The need for self-expression is important, especially for women who are still being discriminated. The narrator’s husband forbids her for doing what she probably enjoys most, writing. Because of his rule, the narrator secretly started her own journal that caused her to be delirious. If only she was allowed freely to express herself, maybe she would not have ended up loosing her mind. The narrator’s plead to change rooms is constantly declined by her husband, if she was treated fairly from the beginning, she wouldn’t have time to think of all those crazy things about the wallpaper. In contrast, A Walk to Remember’s theme is optimistic. It’s themes of hope for the seemingly hopeless, faith in God, and the power of love, are far cries from the themes of The Yellow Wallpaper.

Works Cited

Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. The Yellow Wallpaper. California .The New England Magazine:

            1892.

From Nicholas Spark’s novel. A Walk to Remember. 2002.

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