Thematic Essay Hitchcock Presents

Submitted By crankeycole
Words: 1455
Pages: 6

“Madness”

“There are so many kinds of madness, so many ways in which the human brain may go wrong; and so often it happens that what we call madness is both reasonable and just. It is so. Yes. A little reason is good for us, a little more makes wise men of some of us--but when our reason over-grows us and we reach too far, something breaks and we go insane.” Charlotte Gilman was a prominent American sociologist, novelist, writer of short stories, poetry, and nonfiction. She was also a feminist during a time when her accomplishments were exceptional for women, and she served as a role model for future generations of feminists because of her unorthodox concepts and lifestyle. Her best remembered work today is her short story, “The Yellow Wallpaper” which she wrote after a severe bout of postpartum psychosis. Alfred Hitchcock pioneered many techniques in the suspense and psychological thriller genres. After a successful career in British cinema in both silent films and early talkies, billed as England's best director, Hitchcock moved to Hollywood in 1939 to continue making films. Rod Serling was an American screenwriter, playwright, television producer, and narrator best known for his live television dramas of the 1950s and his science fiction anthology TV series, The Twilight Zone. Serling was active in politics, both on and off the screen and helped form television industry standards. He was known as the "angry young man" of Hollywood, clashing with television executives and sponsors over a wide range of issues including censorship, racism, and war. “The Yellow Wallpaper,” “The Hands of Mr. Ottermole,” and “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” portray madness in the following ways: isolation, hallucination, paranoia, and mental illnesses. The protagonist in each of the stories ails mentally and seemingly are witnesses of things that they are unable to prove to the rest of the people associated with them. This eventually causes them to go mad.
Few works in fictional literature embody the portrayal and effects of madness better than these. Madness is portrayed through mental illness. In “The Yellow Wallpaper,” John is a respected physician who has prescribed rest for his wife who needs to recover from her ailment of a nervous condition and temporary depression. Previously, Bob Wilson, from “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” was on a plane and had a nervous breakdown that put him in a sanitarium. He has complexities with that on the flight he is on now.
In “The Yellow Wallpaper,” readers are presented with the tale of a woman suffering from a mental illness whose problems are compounded by the imprisonment she must endure. John and his wife, the protagonist, venture of for an extended vacation to a large house in the country. The woman’s initial bout with boredom quickly deteriorates to begin her acclimation to madness. She is confined to the bed and the house isolated from the outside world and society. The physical confinement and constraints placed on our character by John force her to become preoccupied with her surroundings such as the room, window, and curious wallpaper. At first she has a mere fascination with the wallpaper. It had a putrid yellow color. To deal with the setting madness, our character begins to try to discover what is behind the patterns in the wallpaper. Her isolation links directly to her impending madness. It gives her reason to be mad. In “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” Bob Wilson and his wife are isolated high above the earth in a plane. He has been suffering with mental illnesses, and he notices a gremlin on the wing of the plane during mid-flight. Bob tries to alert his wife and the flight crew to the gremlin's presence, but every time someone else looks out of the window, the gremlin leaps out of view, so nobody believes Bob's seemingly outlandish claim; his credibility is further marred by the fact that this is his first flight since his nervous breakdown six months earlier, which also occurred on a plane. Bob…