I remember when I signed up for Arts One and I saw Kafka on the reading list. I’d never read anything by him, but when I saw it I immediately thought to myself “That one’s gonna be worth reading”. It’s not that “The Metamorphosis” wasn’t worth reading, it’s just that I found “The Yellow Wallpaper” so interesting that Kafka’s work was a mere afterthought. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely enjoyed “The Metamorphosis”, it’s just that I hated Gregor so much. Everything about him. His weak and clouded mind, being taken advantage of by his family as he continuously frets and works for them.
However in comparison, the lady from “The Yellow Wallpaper” was extremely interesting. While she too is undermined by other characters (especially her husband Jon), as she loses her mind, she also seems to gain her own freedom from his oppression. He constantly told her what to do, not to write, where to sit, how to rest, and while she did end up going crazy, the final scene is so rebellious and uprising that it almost makes me respect her. “Her” being a strange way to refer to the character, especially if it’s still “her” as in the woman who wrote the journal the entire time. We don’t really know, as the scene where she tears out the wallpaper begins to meld the woman from the wallpaper with the one outside of it.
That’s why I liked “The Yellow Wallpaper” so much, it’s open to interpretation and makes you think. Reading and re-reading you find little interesting details which perhaps make the case that she’s been trapped in the wallpaper, and others which lead to other conclusions. Whereas reading “The Metamorphosis” I had no doubts that Gregor was turned into a bug, and there was no mysticism about it all. He became a bug. Nobody cared. He eventually died. That sort of a plotline really fails to excite me, whereas the “The Yellow Wallpaper” has extremely interesting storytelling elements which leave the reader unsure about what happened, and especially what they can trust of the text.
So I guess this all shows me something. Don’t have big expectations? I’m not sure, but then again, every short story or short piece of literature we do in Arts One seems to be awesome, therefore I’ve got big expectations of short works (Borges better not let me down).