Reality and Truth Concepts in Ficciones, Diary of a Madman, and the Yellow Wallpaper

April 13, 2021 by Essay Writer

Truth and Reality: One in the Same?

Truth is defined as “the real facts about something” and “the property of being in accord with fact or reality.” Reality is defined as “the true situation that exists: the real situation.” It is assumed that because truth and reality coincide rather perfectly with one another, that they are basically the same thing. Realities can occur on many levels. People experience different realities. If two people in the same scenario experience two separate realities, are they both true? Or is one reality truer than the other? How can one tell? It might be possible that both are true. If a person experiences a different reality than someone else, that does not make his or her reality false. Because they experienced it, that reality is real to them, or in equal terms, it is true to them. So in actuality, truth and reality are not that similar at all. Truth cannot actually be determined. To each person their reality is their truth, but not necessarily someone else’s. Jorge Luis Borges and Lu Hsun explore the concept of reality in their short stories. There are endless texts that suggest different ideas of reality. One of these texts is The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

In Jorge Luis Borges’ Ficciones, the concept of reality and truth is questioned through the interpretation of different types of reality. Are dreams a reality? Does time determine reality? In “Diary of a Madman” Lu Hsun brings forth the consideration of reality through the mind of a mentally ill person. If someone suffers from hallucinations because of a mental illness, those hallucinations are very much real to them, true to their senses. But isn’t it possible that just because we don’t see these hallucinations that they are still real? Similarly, in The Yellow Wallpaper, the main character is mentally insane, causing her to perceive reality differently than those around her. But because her perception is different does not mean it isn’t real. What is true is different for everyone. That doesn’t make it any less true.

In the story “Diary of a Madman,” the reader starts to question this man’s concept of reality and if what he sees and perceives as his truth is actually reality or not. He talks about people eating flesh and is constantly thinking that people want to eat him. There are also many instances where it appears he is imaging things there that are not. This can be related to Borges’ story about the man who dreamed of a boy who then became real but in the end the man realizes he was the one who dreamed up after all.

In “The Real Story of Ah-Q,” one starts to ask what the truth is. It seems that who people thought Ah-Q was is actually very different from what he really was. It is also hard to trust the facts of the story itself. In the beginning the narrator confesses that a lot of the details were hard to find or could not be found at all. This is similar to Borges’ story “The Secret Miracle,” where a man is granted the miracle of getting a year to finish his book before he dies. The catch is that this year takes place in the split moment before he is shot down by Nazi firing squad. Only he experienced the year in that moment; that was his reality. But the reality of everyone around him was just a split moment, not a year. Is that even possible? Because everyone else didn’t experience the year in that split moment does that mean it didn’t happen? Can we say that it wasn’t real even though to the man it was very much real to him? Can time occur differently for people? And if so, then can there really be a true time? Disregarding religion’s relation to reality, Jaromir Hladík asked God to grant him one year to finish his novel and in a dream Hladík heard “the time for your work has been granted.” Hladík “remembered that the dreams of men belong to God, and to Maimonides wrote that the words of a dream are divine,” (Borges 148). If God creates all things that are one’s reality and God appeared through a dream, can the dream be considered a part of reality? If so, then can all dreams be considered part of reality? What if dreams were their own reality? Borges explores this idea more in his story “The Circular Ruins.”

In “The Circular Ruins” the main character dreams lucidly, he dreams of a heart. He observes it meticulously for many nights. Finally, “ he perceived it and lived it from all angles and distances. On the fourteenth night he lightly touched the pulmonary artery with his index finger,” (Borges 60). Eventually, he dreams about an entire man. Every night he dreams of something, and it becomes real. His dreams become another reality for him. As real to him as his wake life. By the end of the story, the man realizes that “he also was an illusion, that someone else was dreaming him,” (Borges 63). This begs the question: can one’s dreams actually become someone else’s reality and is one’s reality only the result of someone else’s dreams? Realities are endless. There is an infinite number of realities occurring at the same time. All realities should be treated the same. Whether they make sense or not, it all depends on the experience of each and every individual. There’s no way to test every instance and situation for the real truth and facts because it is different for each person who experienced that instance or situation.

It’s important to keep in mind not only dreams as a form of reality, but the realities of people with mental illnesses that create parallel realities for these individuals. In The Yellow Wallpaper, the narrator is a woman who is mentally insane. She is kept in this home with a horrid yellow wallpaper.

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