Is evil always necessarily a bad thing? Could there be an upside? “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and “Fair Extension” by Stephen King both display examples of the different impacts of evil, each pertaining to the well-being of a significant individual in the life of the protagonist. The evil in “Fair Extension” is jealousy, which leads to Streeter transferring his misfortune onto his best friend, Tom, while the evil in “The Yellow Wallpaper” is demonstrated through John’s domineering actions towards his wife, leading to her mental deterioration. The nature of the protagonists’ relationships allows the evil to benefit Streeter and afflict John`s wife.
“Fair Extension” tells the story of a man named Streeter. Streeter has been diagnosed with cancer and is beginning to really question his existence. He meets a man named Elvid, who promises to turn his life around, to take the negative and replace it with positive. He tells Elvid that he hates his “best friend”, Tom Goodhugh. “Tell me why you hate your best friend” (King 9) asked Elvid. Streeter was able to think of hundreds of reasons, “Tom was better looking… He lettered in three sports…” he hates Tom so much because he is jealous of his success, but there is one outstanding reason. “I had a girlfriend… I loved that girl… But he fucking stole her!”(King 11) This is a great representation of Streeter’s dark-side, as he lets out all of his anger and leaves it in Elvid’s hands. Streeter’s jealousy is such that it consumes him and he willingly agrees to make his best friend’s life terrible, letting his selfishness take over.
After Elvid explained the negative weight affect to Streeter, he explained that there is a catch. “But even things not there have weight. Negative weight, which is the worst kind. Weight lifted from you must go somewhere else” (King 7) said Elvid to Streeter. If the negative things are removed from Streeter’s life, then where do they go? They still exist, but now it is somebody else’s problem. By transferring his problems onto Tom, the childhood friend of whom Streeter is so jealous. Streeter is allowing his inner evil to outshine what he knows is right, for selfish reasons.
As Elvid promised, Streeter’s life did get better, but as his life got better, Tom’s life increasingly crumbled down. His son, Carl had a heart attack that would change his entire life. Streeter’s wife eventually stopped going to Tom’s with him, “there’s always something hopeful in [Carl’s] face that makes me feel like everything in life is a joke” (King 9) she would say. But Streeter “enjoyed watching Tom feed his damaged son, and he enjoyed the hopeful look on Carl’s face. The one that said, “This is all a dream I’m having, and soon I’ll wake up.” Jan was right, it was a joke, but it was sort of a good joke.” He had made a deal with the devil, and he has allowed his greedy, selfish, evil side to take over as he enjoys watching his best friend’s life crash and burn. By not showing remorse or guilt over Tom’s misfortunes, Streeter has gained at his friend’s expense and is at peace with it. Streeter’s jealousy has allowed him to feel no guilt, even when it is one hundred percent his fault that Tom’s world is falling apart.
Looking through a feminist lens, one can appreciate elements present in “The Yellow Wallpaper” such as temporal setting of 1892. The dominance of patriarchy that help establish the nature of the relationship between John and his wife. The protagonist is a woman without a name, who is married to John, a doctor, a very controlling husband who convinces her into thinking she is sicker than she actually is. His prescribed treatment leads to her downfall. This story is written as the woman’s journal throughout her experiences in the room with the yellow wallpaper (psyche ward). She will mention John at times, “the fact is, I’m getting…