The plot of “The Yellow Wallpaper”

The plot of “The Yellow Wallpaper” comes from a moderation of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s personal experience. In 1887, just two years after the birth of her first child, Dr. Silas Weir Mitchell diagnosed Gilman with neurasthenia, an emotional disorder characterized by fatigue and depression. Mitchell decided that the best prescription would be a “rest cure”. Mitchell encouraged Gilman to “Live a domestic life as far as possible,” to “have two hours’ intellectual life each day,” and to “never touch a pen, brush or pencil again,”(Gilman 20) as long as she lived.

After three months of isolation, abiding by Dr. Mitchell’s orders, Gilman realized she was becoming insane. She abandoned Dr. Mitchell’s advice and, after recovering, she wrote an exaggerated version of her experience. Written in 1892, “The Yellow Wallpaper” reflects the social mindset of United States’ citizens just after the Civil War. This was a time of cultural and economical growth, expansion, and development. Women received little political and social freedom; their actions were greatly influenced by their husbands’ wills.

The wallpaper’s chaotic pattern represents the metaphorical bars that Jane feels trapped in as a woman. The woman in the paper represents Jane trying to escape and become free from the reigns of her husband. Women were not expected to have a career or a “public life;” instead, they were expected to focus on the upkeep of home and family. People in this time lived with the mindset that women were nice to look at, and were to be seen, not heard. With this story, Gilman brought into light that women have the capacity to think for themselves and the right to express these thoughts.

The Yellow Wallpaper” depicts this by showing that Gilman manages to overcome the constraints of her husband and the doctor in order to be able to write and to become free. Gilman’s purpose for writing “The Yellow Wallpaper,” was to make Dr. Mitchell’s bogus cure known. She wanted to make sure no other woman was diagnosed and treated in the same way she was. She states that “The Yellow Wallpaper,” “Was not intended to drive people crazy, but to save people from being driven crazy, and it worked”(Gilman 20). Dr.

Mitchell is said to have discontinued his “rest cure” after reading Gilman’s story. Gilman’s bold approach of writing on such a controversial topic most likely came from her upbringing. Her father had a profession of a magazine editor, so she spent most of her time with her great aunts. Cathrine Beecher was best known for her views on “domestic feminism. ” Isabella Beecher Hooker was an eager suffragist, and avid supporter of women’s right to vote. Gilman’s most well known aunt, Harriet Beecher Stowe, is the author of bestselling, Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

After first being rejected by The Atlantic, “The Yellow Wallpaper” was published in the New England Magazine in 1872. Editor Scudder of The Atlantic said the story was too depressing to be published. He also stated that he did not want to make any other person suffer through the story as much as he did. It wasn’t until 1920, that it received its deserved attention. Writer and critic William Dean Howells included “The yellow Wallpaper,” in his The Great Modern American Stories. Howell states that he still “shivers” over it just as much as he did when he first read it.

Insanity and Feminism in The Yellow Wallpaper

Insanity and Feminism in the Works of Charlotte Perkins Gilman The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman reflects the intense struggle with of a woman during the late 1800s. However, as the story unfolds, we realize the reasons for this insanity and the connections of this breakdown to the main characters husband, John. What we discover is the way women were treated during the late 1800s and the significance of this treatment on their lives. The story clearly expresses the pain, opposition, and depression experienced by women at that time and provides a ackdrop for the initial stages of the feminist movement.

As the story begins, the author decribes in detail her painful relationship with her husband. She writes John laughs at me of course, but one excepts that in marriage. She also explains So I take phosphates or phosphites-whichever it is, and tonics, and journeys, and air, and exercise, and am absolutely forbidden to work until I am well again. It is clear that the main character is very unhappy in her marriage which causes her pain, and that she is unable to do the things she would like to do.

When she states You see he does not believe I am sick! it is evident that she feels very repressed and that no matter what she says that she needs her husband, he does not have the capacity to understand or to respond to those needs. He is emotionally unavailable. Her frustration grows and contributes to her insanity and pain as the story progresses. The house in this story represents the main character and the opposition she faces related to her husband. It is quite alone, standing well back from the road, quite three miles from the village.

It makes me think of English places they you read about, for there are the hedges and gates that lock, and lots of separate little houses for the gardeners and people. The way she describes how the house stands back from the road and the hedges, walls, and gates that lock are symbolic of how she sees herself. She feels very alone. The main character states I am afraid, but I dont care-there is something strange about the house-I can feel it. This explains how she feels about herself, that something is wrong, she can feel it.

These feelings are irectly connected to oppositional nature of her husband. The rest of the story conveys in great detail the symbolism of the yellow wallpaper, its contribution to her depression. The wallpaper seems to represent the main characters husband. The wallpaper, as I said before, is torn off in spots, and it sticketh closer than a brother-they must have had perseverance as well as hatred. She continues This wallpaper has a sub- pattern in a different shade, a particularly irritating one, for you can only see it in certain lights, and not clearly then.

This mirrors the way she feels about her relationship with her husband, how he controls her every move, and the way he smothers her. In direct contrast is the pattern in the wallpaper which represents the main character and her marriage. The faint figure behind seemed to shake the pattern, just as if she wanted to get out. The main character continues Sometimes I think there are a great many women behind, and sometimes only one, and she crawls around very fast, and her crawling shakes all over.

The description of the patterns in the yellow allpaper represent a constant struggle in an unhappy marriage and the main characters desire to leave the relationship, but reflect her inability to do so. Consequently, she becomes extremely depressed. In conclusion, The Yellow Wallpaper is a very symbolic story, representative of life in the late 1800s, and the struggle for women to be heard. This story is written about the life and experiences of one individual, her pain, opposition, and depression, but can be expanded to represent the struggle for freedom for all women during that era.

Free At Last

When a reader first reads The Yellow Wallpaper it appears to be a story of a young woman suffering from post pardum depression that slowly ends in the total loss of reality. However, understanding that Charlotte Perkins Gilman was an early feminist, and her writings share a common theme that women do not have an equal human status in society, the story takes on a whole new meaning. The authors creative use of symbolism in The Yellow Wallpaper allows the reader an inside look of a young womans struggle to free herself from societys norm.

The authors use of setting and symbolism perfectly represents the male dominant society in the Victorian era that believed a womens place was in the home. The author carefully constructed her sentences and symbols to produce a picture of arrogant and creepy male oppression. The story opens with the young woman describing the house as a colonial mansion, a hereditary estate, I would say a haunted house, and reach the height of romantic felicitybut that would be asking too much of fate! (168). The author uses this symbolism to describe the different roles a woman played.

The colonial mansion describes her as a wife and a hereditary estate that of a mother. The haunted house alludes to the fact that a woman during this time had to hide any signs of intelligence or creativity. When the young woman talks about the height of romantic felicity and that it would be to much to ask, the reader understands the young womans desire to show her creativity through writing but that her husband and society would perceive this as a woman trying to over step her bounds would treat her as a outcast, therefore, she must hide this side of herself away.

It is the wallpaper, though, that is the focal point of the story, and it holds within it many descriptive symbols for the creepy discrimination and oppression of women. Women were thought to be property and treated like children. The author slowly releases clues that allow the reader to see the wallpaper as a symbol of male authority. The young womans fascination with the ugly paper begins as an innocent annoyance, builds to a pastime, and turns into an obsession. The young woman states that the color is repellent, almost revolting; a smoldering unclean yellow, strangely faded by the slow-turn sunlight.

It is a dull yet lurid orange in some places, a sickly sulphur tint in others (170). The young woman feels tramped in a marriage, dominated by her husband and dictated by society, that wont allow her to openly express herself. Although she felt no animosity toward her husband, the marriage itself was more like a prison. It trapped a woman in a role of being submissive and dominated. No wonder the children hated it! I should hate it myself if I had to live in this room long (170).

In other words, no wonder most women hated marriage and even though she loved her husband, she herself would come to hate it if she continued to allow her husband to suppress her creativity. Another symbol is the papers odor, which is a metaphor for the foul effects of male domination. The young woman tells the reader it creeps all over the house. I find it hovering in the dining room, skulking in the parlor, hiding in the hall, lying in wait for me on the stairs.

It gets into my hair. Even when I go to ride, if I turn my head suddenly and surprise itthere is that smell! 77). In every aspect of her duties as a wife and mother her husband and society dominate and oppress her. Even outside her home she cant escape the effects of male dominance, its all around her. The young woman also states that there is a kind of sub-pattern and in the places where it isnt faded and where the sun is just soI can see a strange, provoking formless sort of figure, that seems to skulk about that silly and conspicuous front design (173). By daylight she is subdued, quiet. I fancy it is the pattern that keeps her so still (176).

The formless figure represents women who are forced to the background, a mere shadow of men, by male dominance. It was not deemed proper for a woman to be openly individualistic and to do so they had to skulk or lurk among men. The strangled heads in the paper symbolize women whose careers and goals have been choked by male dominance. The young woman comes to the realization that If only that top pattern could be gotten off from the under one! I mean to try it, little by little (179). She slowly gains the courage to tear way from male dominance and live the kind of life she wants by pulling of the paper.

She begins to tear away at the paper piece by piece gaining confidence with each piece removed. The young woman peeled off all the paper I could reach standing on the floor. It sticks horribly and the pattern just enjoys it (222). It would not be easy to break through the barrier since men would not so easy give in to equality. Bits of paper still remained and although she made great strides in freeing herself from the dominance of her husband there was still work to be done in terms of true social and economic equality and that it will not be easy to break the dominance that men have enjoyed for so long.

The Yellow Wallpaper – Journey into Insanity

In “The Yellow Wallpaper”, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, the dominant/submissive relationship between an oppressive husband and his submissive wife pushes her from depression into insanity. Flawed human nature seems to play a great role in her breakdown. Her husband, a noted physician, is unwilling to admit that there might really be something wrong with his wife. This same attitude is seen in her brother, who is also a physician. While this attitude, and the actions taken because of it, certainly contributed to her breakdown; it seems to me that there is a rebellious spirit in her.

Perhaps unconsciously she seems determined to prove them wrong. As the story begins, the woman — whose name we never learn — tells of her depression and how it is dismissed by her husband and brother. “You see, he does not believe I am sick! And what can one do? If a physician of high standing, and one’s own husband, assures friends and relatives that there is really nothing the matter with one but temporary nervous depression — a slight hysterical tendency — what is one to do? ” (Gilman 193).

These two men — both doctors — seem completely unable to admit that there might be more to her ondition than than just stress and a slight nervous condition. Even when a summer in the country and weeks of bed-rest don’t help, her husband refuses to accept that she may have a real problem. Throughout the story there are examples of the dominant – submissive relationship. She is virtually imprisoned in her bedroom, supposedly to allow her to rest and recover her health. She is forbidden to work, “So I . . . am absolutely forbidden to “work” until I am well again. (Gilman 193).

She is not even supposed to write: “There comes John, and I must put this away — he hates to have me write a word. (Gilman 194). She has no say in the location or decor of the room she is virtually imprisoned in: “I don’t like our room a bit. I wanted . . . But John would not hear of it. ” (Gilman 193). She can’t have visitors: “It is so discouraging not to have any advice and companionship about my work. . . but he says he would as soon put fireworks in my pillow-case as to let me have those stimulating people about now. ” (Gilman 196).

Probably in large part because of her oppression, she continues to decline. “I don’t feel as if it was worthwhile to turn my hand over for anything. . ” (Gilman 197). It seems that her husband is oblivious to her declining conditon, since he never admits she has a real problem until the end of the story — at which time he fainted. John could have obtained council from someone less personally involved in her case, but the only help he seeks was for the house and baby. He obtains a nanny to watch over the children while he was away at work each day: “It is fortunate Mary is so good with the baby. (Gilman 195). And he had his sister Jennie take care of the house.

“She is a perfect and enthusiastic housekeeper. (Gilman 196). He does talk of taking her to an expert: “John says if I don’t pick up faster he shall send me to Weir Mitchell in the fall. ” But she took that as a threat since he was even more domineering than her husband and brother. Not only does he fail to get her help, but by keeping her virtually a prisoner in a room with nauseating wallpaper and very little to occupy her mind, let alone offer any kind of mental stimulation, he almost forces her to dwell on her problem.

Prison is supposed to be depressing, and she is pretty close to being a prisoner. Perhaps if she had been allowed to come and go and do as she pleased her depression might have lifted: “I think sometimes that if I were only well enough to write a little it would relieve the press of ideas and rest me. ” (Gilman 195). It seems that just being able to tell someone how she really felt would have eased her depression, but John won’t hear of it. The lack of an outlet caused the depression to worsen: “. . . I must say what I feel and think in some way — it is such a relief!

But the effort is getting to be greater than the relief. ” (Gilman 198). Meanwhile her reaction is to seek to prove him wrong. “John is a physician, and perhaps . . . perhaps that is one reason I do not get well faster. You see he does not believe I am sick! And what can one do? ” (Gilman 193). It seems to me that while putting on an appearance of submission she was frequently rebelling against her husband’s orders. She writes when there is nobody around to see her, she tries to move her bed, but always keeps an eye open for someone comming. This is obvious throughout the story.

It also seems to me that, probably because of his oppressive behaviour, she ants to drive her husband away. “John is away all day, and even some nights when his cases are serious. I am glad my case is not serious! ” (Gilman 195). As her breakdown approaches she actually locks him out of her room: “I have locked the door and thrown the key down into the front path. I don’t want to go out, and I don’t want to have anybody come in, till John comes. I want to astonish him. ” (Gilman 203). I see no reason for this other than to force him to see that he was wrong, and, since she knew he couldn’t tolerate hysteria, to drive him away.

The Yellow Wallpaper – Short story

Often times what is meant to help can hinder. Positive intentions do not always bring about desirable effects. The “Yellow Wallpaper” is an example of such an occurrence. In this short story the narrator is detained in a lonesome, drab room in an attempt to free herself of a nervous disorder. During the era in which this narrative was written such practices were considered beneficial. The narrators husband, a physician adheres to this belief and forces his wife into a treatment of solitude. Rather than heal the narrator of her psychological disorder, the treatment only contributes to its effects, driving her into a evere depression.

Under the orders of her husband, the narrator was moved to a house far from society in the country, wherein she is locked into an upstairs room. This environment serves not as an inspiration for mental health but as an element of repression. The locked door and barred windows serves to physically restrain her. “The windows are barred for little children, and there are rings and things in the walls. “(p218). Being exposed to the room’s yellow wallpaper is dreadful and fosters only negative creativity. “The color is hideous enough, and unreliable enough, and infuriating enough, but the pattern s torturing. p224).

All through the story the yellow paper acts as an antagonist causing her to become very annoyed and disturbed. There is nothing to do in the secluded room but stare at the wallpaper. The narrator tells of the haphazard pattern having no organization or symmetrical plot. Her constant examination and reflection of the wallpaper causes her much travail. “I determine for the thousandth time that I will follow that pointless Johnston 2 pattern to some sort of a conclusion. ” (p221). The treatments call for isolation was a repressive factor .

The narrator did not believe isolation would cure her disorder. Social contact and outside stimulation was her desire. “I sometimes fancy that in my condition if I had less opposition and more society and stimulus, but John says the worst thing I can do is think about my condition. (p217). She was cut off from society and forbidden from seeing her baby. It is not natural to be confined to little social contact for large amounts of time. Society provides a sundry of different sights, sounds, feelings and stimuli to its inhabitants. To go without outside contact would be living gainst natures way for man.

To fulfill her social need she invents a person she thinks she sees inside the wallpaper. “I didn’t realize for a long time what the thing was that dim sub pattern, but now I am quite sure it is a woman. “(p224). The vision of a woman is clearly an indication of the ill effects caused by prolonged isolation. Her hallucination becomes so vivid that she becomes involved with her imagined character. In a frantic action the now malfunctioning narrator began to try to free the women from behind the wallpaper’s pattern. She destroys yards of the wallpaper.

I pulled and she shook, I shook and she pulled, and before morning we had peeled off yards of that paper. “(p227) The treatment contributes to her impending mental demise She is first diagnosed with a minor nervous disorder. On her last day of treatment she is participating with hallucinations as if they are real. This obviously shows that the appointed cure only serves to fortify the minor illness. The negative qualities of the rehabilitation regimen causes her to go insane. “I am getting angry enough to do something desperate jump out of the window would be an admirable Johnston 3 exercise. ‘ (228).

Towards the end of the story, the narrator is delirious and constantly creeping around the room. Her husband goes into the room and upon seeing his wife in a deranged state creeping through the torn wallpaper falls on the floor and faints. “Now why should that man have fainted? But he did, and right across my path by the wall, so that I had to creep over him every time! “(p229). Clearly this treatment is issued with good intentions, but failes to bring about positive results. The lack of social exposure, physical repression , and ugly wallpaper causes the reatment to be very ineffective and detrimental.

The disorder which is being treated is actually strengthened to the point of a serious mental illness. Similarly in today’s society medical and psychological advice may have the same effect. Unfortunately,yellow the downfall of today’s treatment will not be seen until tomorrow. Medical technology and practice have progressed considerably since the time of the “Yellow Wallpaper”, This is not to say that today’s physicians are infallible. Perhaps some of today’s treatments are the “Yellow Wallpaper” of the future.

The story of The Yellow Wallpaper

The story of The Yellow Wallpaper begins with a family going away on vacation. It is revealed later that there are repairs or renovations being done on their regular house. The wife in the story believes at first that the house is haunted since no one has occupied the house for so long, but she finds out that it was only because of an ownership dispute. The main reason that the family goes on vacation is because the woman is sick. Her illness is most likely some form of a mental disorder.

Her husband, who happens to be a physician, tell her that all she needs to get better is rest and to be around no stimuli. The woman automatically thinks something is wrong with the house, but she could not figure it out right away. One of the first things she does not like about her and her husband’s room is the wallpaper. She claims that it commits every artistic sin and is not made with any laws of radiation, alternation, repetition or symmetry. The woman starts to see mages in the wallpaper, and then she sees them move around and change as the light in the room changes.

As time goes on, she begins to see a woman creeping around behind the front patter on the wallpaper. She eventually sees the woman in the wallpaper shake the front pattern that acts as a form of a jail for the woman. The wife writes that she thinks the wallpaper woman gets out from her “jail” during the day since she sees her creep around outside her window during the day. Towards the end of her vacation, the woman tries to figure out a way to get the top layer of the paper off from the bottom one. On the last night, she pulls off yards of the top layer while the wallpaper lady helps her out.

Then in the morning, the wallpaper begins to laugh at her and she declares that she will finish getting off the top layer that day. She continues to pull at the paper while it laughs at her. At the end she decides to climb behind the first layer of wallpaper and creep as the wallpaper lady did. Her husband arrives and gets into the room after some time and then faints because he realizes his wife has gone stark raving mad! Throughout the whole story, the husband finds ways to discredit the wife and what she says and thinks.

This story is great example of the oppression women faced in this time period when the story was written, 1892. The struggle for equality between the sexes started long before this story was written, but it is a good historical piece to show how things were during a specific time period. The wife in the story is told she has a nervousness disorder, but, at the beginning of the story, she has the early symptoms of schizophrenia. Her mental condition deteriorates throughout the story to a deeper and deeper form of schizophrenia.

At this time period there was not a whole lot of information about mental disorders and people were put into asylums for “treatment” when they were really put there so the family would not be bothered by having to take care of them. This is most likely why the family took the vacation in the first place, to prevent others from knowing about her illness. The man that John threatened to send her to, Weir Mitchell, was a notorious quack doctor of that time period. There is no wonder the wife did not want to go.

We Must Creep to be Heard

It’s 2:00am and I cannot sleep. I toss and turn while the question, “Why didn’t you stand up for yourself? ” keeps playing over and over in my mind. The picture in my mind of a subjugated woman who feebly attempts to fight against feminine oppression and her impending insanity is vivid and disturbing and continues to slap against the recesses of my mind with an angry hand. What was Charlotte Perkins Gilman attempting to convey to her readers when she wrote “The Yellow Wallpaper” and created the characters of the narrator, her husband John, Mary and her sister-in-law Jennie?

Obviously, in an exaggerated version of her own experience with post-partum depression and its prescribed “rest cure”, Gilman speaks of a world in which the female is forced into a role of the submissive counterpart to male dominance. In the following pages, I will describe how Gilman has effectively created characters that draw us into their view of control, dominance and frustrated silence against imprisonment in a paternalistic society, and how we are given a view into a perfectly healthy mind that goes awry.

To begin with, Gilman created the narrator as a nearly anonymous identity; we know her only as John’s wife. This power imbalance extends to other areas of their relationship. John dominates her in a progressively patronizing manner. His character is displayed as strong, practical and stereotypically masculine and he seems skeptical of her seemingly weak, feminine condition. John diagnoses her problem, and prescribes the “rest cure” he believes she needs.

The narrator has no say in her condition, and when she attempts to speak her mind, he treats her like a child and makes light of her voice. “John laughs at me, of course, but one expects that” (An Introduction to Fiction 572) which illustrates the role women are expected to play and accept in a marriage. Another main function Gilman gave of John’s control over the narrator is his inhibiting of her writing. Although she believes writing would help her condition, as I’m sure Gilman did, John insists it would only debilitate her ailment further.

He stifles her creativity and intellect, forcing her into the role of the submissive wife. She is forced to hide her writings, which frustrate her more “I did write for a while in spite of them; but it does exhaust me a good dealhaving to be so sly about it, or else meet with heavy opposition” (572). Gilman writes of the narrator as imprisoned, unable to exercise dominion over her own mind. Furthermore, her role as a mother and wife are subverted, which allows for further repression and diminished self-worth.

We know the narrator and John have a baby, but the baby, as a character, is quite flat and doesn’t play a significant role in the story, if only to clarify the narrator’s feeling of inadequacy over her wifely and maternal duties. Mary (a likely allusion to the perfect mother, the Virgin Mary) has replaced her as the caretaker of the baby, and Jennie plays the model of a perfectly submissive and happily domesticated wife.

In an attempt to retreat from her inability to be a good mother and wife, she focuses on her immediate surroundings and allows her mind to get drawn into delusions and fantasies revolving around the house, and more specifically, the room she is imprisoned in. The structure of the house and its surroundings bear out the suppression of the narrator’s mind “there are hedges and walls and gates that lock, and lots of separate little houses for the gardeners and peopleI never saw such a garden, large and shady, full of box-bordered paths” (572). Everything seems separated and boxed in, like a prison, and she is held captive in her room.

Interestingly enough, I was under the impression that Gilman wrote of the house much like that of a man: larger than life, full of aggression and competitiveness. Even the fact that it was a “hereditary estate” (572) reminds us that it was probably passed down to the men in the family. The fact that John ordered the narrator to reside in the large nursery on the second floor is further evidence of his control over her. She voiced her opposition and her desire to be able to choose one of the rooms downstairs with a view of the garden, but to no avail.

Notice here, Gilman has described the narrator as desiring a more stereotypically feminine room, one that “opened to the piazza and had roses all over the window” (573). But predictably, John would not hear of it and she is forced to rest in the nursery with no visitors, no writing and only the wallpaper to stare at. The nursery also has bars on the windows, another symbol of imprisonment. Of course the narrator hates the wallpaper most of all, almost as a parody of how she hates that room, and furthermore, her suppressed life.

She describes the wallpaper and its design “when you follow the lame uncertain curves for a little distance they suddenly commit suicideplunge off at outrageous angles, destroy themselves in unheard-of-contradictions” (573). Gilman, here, describes what is to comea foreshadowing of the delicate nature of the narrator’s mind. Her sanity is in turmoil and conflict, she is fighting a determination to be heard, and, not being able to in her society, retreats into herself, committing social suicide as a way to escape her imprisonment.

In another subtle hint, Gilman addresses the significance of sunshine and moonlight as a direct caricature of man and woman. Sunshine dominates the nursery for most of the day, much like John dominates the narrator as he gives her “a scheduled prescription for each hour of the day” (573), and, subsequently, the narrator begins to sleep most of the day. The moon, however, symbolizes female intuition and sensitivity and appears to liberate the narrator in some form. The sunshine is also equated with the yellow wallpaper, which is “faded by the slow turning sunlighta sickly sulphur tint” (573), which is symbolic of the narrator’s illness.

Gilman provides additional evidence that the narrator’s mind is growing more chaotic as time passes. The garden becomes less appealing to her with its “riotuous old-fashioned flowers, and bushes and gnarly trees” (574). These words seem to mirror the narrator’s state of mind, which grows less fluent and more irregular in her writing. The wallpaper becomes a centralized focus for the narrator and its effects are spookily apparent as the narrator spends more and more time attempting to decipher the wallpapers contents.

The narrator begins to feel watched over by the wallpaper, much like John and Jennie watch over her, adding to her sense of imprisonment. The sunlight motif appears again when she claims she can see a figure in the wallpaper “a strange, provoking formless sort of figure that seems to skulk about behind that silly and conspicuous front design” (575). All of a sudden, the wallpaper becomes an all-consuming focus of the narrator and she begins to feel a connection with its contents, perhaps a hope for her own identity since in her current state, she lives through John’s identity.

It is John’s paternalistic actions toward the narrator that are driving her toward the wallpaper. He controls her every action, and Gilman even makes a reference to her former doctor Mitchell, who prescribed her a similar “rest cure”, and who is “just like John and my brother, only more so! ” (574). The figure behind the wallpaper begins to take shape and the narrator describes her as a woman “And it is like a woman stooping down and creeping about behind that pattern. ” (577). The motif of moonlight and sunshine really develop here.

It is during this time, at night, that the narrator gains the courage to request that John take her away from this place, although her plea is unsuccessful. Then, the wallpaper’s pattern emerges by moonlight. The woman behind the wallpaper symbolizes the oppression of female domestication: she is barred from exiting the wallpaper. The narrator is only subconsciously aware of this oppression at night, when her mind is allowed to roam. During the day, the narrator is repressed, like the wallpaper “In the daytime it is tiresome and perplexing. 580)

Here the narrator’s writing becomes more and more choppier and paranoid. She believes everyone is trying to figure out the meaning of the wallpaper which she vehemently wants to do herself “I am determined that nobody shall find it out but myself! ” (580). The woman behind the wallpaper become more evident and in her domesticated prison of the wallpaper, she shakes the bars to try to escape “The woman behind it shakes it! ” (581) Eventually, the narrator assists in the escape plan as her insanity climaxes and she identifies completely with the woman in the wallpaper.

She now believes she is that woman coming out of the wallpaper. Again, the symbolic meaning is that she has finally liberated herself from masculine oppression by tearing down the domesticated prison of the wallpaper. This moment of revelation again occurs by moonlight when, according to the theme Gilman has suggested, women have a break from the oppression of masculine sunshine. The narrator’s statement “I’ve got out at lastin spite of you and Jane! ” (584) is a final attempt to give herself, the narrator, an identity. We, as the readers, are finally given a name for her.

It is ironic then, as John rushed into the room, that he should faint, which is typically a stereotypical feminine show of weakness. Gilman is an incredibly courageous woman to express her feministic views during her era. It is evident that, through her own experiences with oppression, she attempted to horrify women into thinking for themselves, using their own minds, fighting against oppression. She has created characters women could identify with, with the same point of views. Gilman was not afraid of being caught acting her feministic ways by expressing her ideas, as the narrator was with her creeping about.

The narrator clearly drew us a picture of the effects of suppression of the mind and impending insanity. Gilman may have wanted us, as readers, to look beyond the yellow wallpaper toward feministic freedom; to tear down the wall of oppression; to not continue to creep about. This view of “creeping” may specify that early feminism needed to creep about silently in the shadows until it could stand tall. The large mass of women the narrator sees are these early practitioners of feminism, as Gilman was, who draw strength in their numbers and have crept out of the wallpaper of repression and now creep outside.

Signs of societys sexism in The Yellow Wallpaper

The Yellow Wallpaper is a story, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Although the work is short, it is one of the most interesting works in existence. Gilman uses literary techniques very well. The symbolism of The Yellow Wall-Paper, can be seen and employed after some thought and make sense immediately. The views and ideals of society are often found in literary works. Whether the author is trying to show the ills of society of merely telling a story, culture is woven onto the words.

The relationship between the narrator and her husband would be disagreeable to a modern womans relationship. Today, most women crave equality with their partner. The reader never learns the name of the narrator, perhaps to give the illusion that she could be any woman. On the very fist page of The Yellow Wall-Paper, Gilman illustrates the male dominated society and relationship. It was customary for men to assume that their gender knew what, when, how, and why to do things.

John, the narrators husband, is a prominent doctor and both his and his wifes words and actions reflect the aforementioned stereotype: John laughs at me, of course, but one expects that in marriage, (9). This statement illustrates the blatant sexism of society at the time. John does not believe that his wife is sick, while she is really suffering from post-partum depression. He neglects to listen to his wife in regard to her thoughts, feelings, and health through this thought pattern. According to him, there is not anything wrong with his wife except for temporary nerve issues, which should not be serious.

By closing her off from the rest of the world, he is taking her away from things that important to her mental state; such as her ability to read and write, her need for human interaction, her need to make her own decisions. All of these are important to all people. This idea of forced rest and relaxation to cure temporary nervous problems was very common at the time. Many doctors prescribed it for their female patients. The narrators husband, brother, and their colleagues all feel that this is the correct way to fix her problem, which is practically nonexistent in their eyes.

Throughout the beginning of the story, the narrator tends to buy into the idea that the man is always right and makes excuses for her feelings and his actions and words: It is so hard to talk to John about my case, because he is so wise and because he loves me so, (23). In a good relationship, each partner should be able to express ones own thoughts and feelings. Honesty in one of the most important characteristics a relationship should have. In this case, the narrator feels that she can not tell him how she feels so as not to upset him and make him mad.

When the narrator does attempt to have a discussion with John, she ends up crying and not being able to express herself. John treats her like a child as men believed that crying something that women do and is something that shows weakness. Eventually she begins to become frightened of John and as she goes bad, his normalcy is seen as queer through in her eyes. For a long time it was customary for the house to be able to represent a secure place for a woman. Her house was a womans place of residency as well as where women were to do their work and express themselves.

In The Yellow Wall-Paper, the house is not even the couples own. It is a summer rental and the narrator is forced to reside and spent the majority of her time in a room that is unpleasant to her tastes. This house reverses the traditional symbol of security for the domestic activities of a woman. However, it becomes a place for her to release her words onto paper and eventually to release her grip on reality. The room and many of its features twist the common comforts of a home. The room itself used to be a nursery, which is ironic since the narrator was sent to the house to recover from post partum depression.

The narrator comments: The window typically represents a view of possibilities. However, for the narrator it represents a view of a world that she can not be a part of. The window is physically barred as she is barred from the world physically and mentally. The bed is nailed down. The bed should be a place of comfort for a couple, not a place where one partner is forced into a life that she does not want to live in that way. As, the title of the work shows, there is obviously something interesting to the narrator about the wallpaper.

The stripes in the print of the wallpaper represent bars and the narrator begins to see a figure behind them: The front pattern does moveand no wonder! The woman behind shakes it. Sometimes I think there are a great many women behind, and sometimes only one, (30). While the woman behind the bars shakes them, the narrator can not shake the bars that keep her away from reality. The woman represents the narrator as well as women in general and the movement for womens rights. The narrator also can represent any woman and the struggle that woman went though to get closer to achieving equality.

Johns sister, Jennie, comes to help take care of the narrator. Jennie is the epitome of a woman who falls into the conventional female role: She is a perfect and enthusiastic housekeeper, and hopes for no better profession, (18). The narrator attempts to keep her writing a secret from Jennie, so that her one outlet will not be taken away. At some times, it seems as though the narrator pities Jennie and feels sorry for Jennies pathetic views. As the narrator descends into madness, her views on society change and become more modern.

She is emancipating herself from the docile role that a woman should play. Gilman uses the narrator and the symbolism in The Yellow Wall-Paper, to show societys views on women. The narrator eventually goes against common culture and becomes a feminist. Men thought the feminist movement was weak and useless, while comparatively, men like John thought their wives were weak and useless outside the home. At the storys conclusion, the narrator was directing her own footsteps and in reality, women are doing the same.

The Yellow Wallpaper

In the 19th century, mental illness was an uncommon issue to be discussed. The public would treat the illness only by avoiding the matter and forcing the sick to feel helpless. At that time, the medical profession had not yet distinguished between diseases of the mind and diseases of the brain. Neurologists such as Dr. Silas Mitchell treated the problems that would now be treated by psychiatrists, such as depression. The most accepted cure was Mitchell’s “Rest Cure,” which required complete isolation from family and friends. It forbid any type of mental or physical energy, and required total bed rest.

The harsh results of the “Rest Cure” are easily seen in the story titled “The Yellow Wallpaper” written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman in 1891. The main character was given the “Rest Cure” and soon began to descend deeper into the traps of insanity. Before fully understanding mental illnesses her actions would be linked to “hysteria”. Hysteria was the term given to women with signs of depression. (Showalter, p. 127) Embedded largely in women’s discouraged ambitions and limited opportunities, a reaction of supposed hysteria cases occurred during the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Due to rise in this type of mental illness, the period became known as the “Golden Age of Hysteria. ” Authorities of the time defined the problem in terms of femininity and female sexuality. Coming from the Greek term hysteron, meaning womb, hysteria was known as a strictly female illness that was caused by women’s delicate constitutions and emotionality. Many doctors believed the uterus caused it, which was why they concluded that men could not become hysterical. (Showalter, p. 129) Hysteria was assumed a largely self-created or imagined illness.

People did not generally take it, or mental illness seriously. Though hysteria became a focal point of study by physicians throughout the world. Symptoms included fainting, vomiting, choking, sobbing, paralysis, and temperamental fits. Reflecting the belief that women were prone to hysteria because they were less rational and stable than men. Dr. Edward Tilt, in a typical Victorian textbook definition, wrote: “mutability is a characteristic of hysteria, because it is characteristic of women” (Showalter, p. 129).

As more studies were conducted, however, some doctors began to link hysteria with restricted activity and sexual repression. One doctor wrote in 1879: “the range of activity of women is so limited, and their available paths of work in life so few, compared with those which men have in the present social arrangements, that they have not, like men, vicarious outlets for feelings in a variety of healthy aims and pursuits. ” Strong women who exhibited more than the usual amount of forceful, confident, and fearless behavior were particularly prone to hysteria, according to F.

C. Skey, a Victorian Age physician. (Showalter, p. 130) In fact, as shown in “The Yellow Wallpaper”, strong and creative women were forbidden from exercising their minds and bodies. They often struck out with fits of hysteria, or became extremely depressed because they could not find useful outlets for their energy. The narrator was unable to express her thoughts through writing, because her health depended upon her remaining relaxed and peaceful. In addition, postpartum depression was not diagnosed as a reasonable condition during Gilman’s time.

Motherhood brings significant hormonal and other changes that require psychological adjustment. After giving birth, some women become extremely depressed. Postpartum depression, coupled with the unfair social constraints of the Victorian Era, drove some women mad, causing serious mental illness and even suicide. (Showalter, p. 130) The main character in “The Yellow Wallpaper” encounters many signs of entrapment. Her mind and body are unable to escape the toucher of the “Rest Cure” given to her by her husband. It is apparent from the beginning of the story that her husband physically and spiritually traps her.

Though she wanted a room downstairs that opened onto the forum, John would not change his mind. “I wanted one downstairs that opened onto the pizza and had roses all over the windows, and such pretty old-fashion chintz hangings, But John would not hear it. ” The narrator strives for some space of her own close to her family. Instead John has put his wife on the top floor away from the rest of the household. She believes that the room is a “nursery first and then playroom and gymnasium. ” Though she recognizes her captivity she overlooks other more threatening signs of her confinement.

Signs such as, the bars at the window, the gate at the top of the stairs, steel rings on the wall, and the nailed-down bedstead. This should show her that this room was meant for incarceration. (Korb, p. 3) This habit of deliberately misreading her surroundings is evident throughout the story. She continues to fool herself in believing what John really wishes her to believe. She explains how writing would better her and relieve her mind. “I think sometimes that if I were only well enough to write a little it would relieve the press of ideas and rest me.

Then she contradicts her statement so that she may mislead herself into believing what John feels is right. “But I find I get pretty tired when I try. ” She doesn’t recognize his subtle way of controlling her. He has her justifying her own actions without him even saying it. He is slowly manipulating her mind, and sending her deeper into her insanity. When she is speaking to John at nighttime she doesn’t notice that he is acting very unconcerned. He says things that illustrate he truly doesn’t care about her healths improvement.

He only tries to fool her in saying that she is getting better when she is not. You are gaining flesh and color, your appetite is better, I feel really much easier about you. ” Her response is “I don’t weigh a bit more. ” She proves him wrong and he avoids the response by saying “But now let’s improve the shining hours by going to sleep, and talk in the morning. ” She overlooks his true intentions and focuses back on the wallpaper.

She almost revels to herself and John that the “Rest Cure” isn’t working as expected. and actually show that he doesn’t care. begins to interpet the yellow wallpaper, as having many life like similarity ries to resorts to reasoning with herself so that she may feel husband keeping he away from any outside world her minds wanders into insanity. Her husband doesn’t know any better than to restrain her from exerting energy. He feels that he must keep her in bed to better her health. This in the end is the reason she goes insane. He must feel a bit ashamed being a doctor and not knowing of any other cure to The signs of metal illness are evident when the main character resorts to ripping at the wallpaper to release some built up anxiety.

Understand The Significance Of The Yellow Wallpaper

For the women in the twentieth century today, who have more freedom than before and have not experienced the depressive life that Gilman lived from 1860 to 1935, it is difficult to understand Gilmans situation and understand the significance of The Yellow Wallpaper. Gilmans original purpose of writing the story was to gain personal satisfaction if Dr. S. Weir Mitchell might change his treatment after reading the story. However, as Ann L. Jane suggests, The Yellow Wallpaper is the best crafted of her fiction: a genuine literary piecethe most directly, obviously, self-consciously autobiographical of all her stories (Introduction xvi).

And more importantly, Gilman says in her article in The Forerunner, It was not intended to drive people crazy, but to save people from being driven crazy, and it worked (20). Therefore, The Yellow Wallpaper is a revelation of Charlotte Perkins Gilmans own emotions. When the story first came out in 1892 the critics considered The Yellow Wallpaper as a portrayal of female insanity rather than a story that reveals an aspect of society. In The Transcript, a physician from Boston wrote, Such a story ought not to be writtenit was enough to drive anyone mad to read it (Gilman 19).

This statement implies that any oman that would write something to show opposition to the dominant social values must have been insane. In Gilmans time setting The ideal woman was not only assigned a social role that locked her into her home, but she was also expected to like it, to be cheerful and gay, smiling and good humored (Lane, To Herland 109). Those women who rejected this role and pursued intellectual enlightenment and freedom would be scoffed, alienated, and even punished. This is exactly what Gilman experienced when she tried to express her desire for independence.

Gilman expressed her emotional and psychological feelings of ejection from society for thinking freely in The Yellow Wallpaper, which is a reaction to the fact that it was against the grain of society for women to pursue intellectual freedom or a career in the late 1800s. Her taking Dr. S. Weir Mitchells rest cure was the result of the pressures of these prevalent social values. Charlotte Gilman was born on July 3, 1860, in Hartford, Connecticut in a family boasting a list of revolutionary thinkers, writers.

And intermarriages among them were, as Carol Berkin put it, in discrete confirmation of their pride in association (18). One fact that catches our ttention is that, either from the inbreeding, or from the high intellectual capacity of the family, there was a long sting of disorders ranging from manic-depressive illness to nervous breakdowns including suicide and short term hospitalizations (Lane, To Herland 110). Harriet Beecher Stowe, Gilmans aunt, also complained about this illness. When writing to a friend, Beecher said, My mind is exhausted and seems to be sinking into deadness (Lane, TO Herland 111).

She felt this way for years and did not recover from so many breakdowns until finding real release in her writing of Uncle Toms Cabin (Lane, To Herland 111). And Catherine Beecher, another famous writer and lecturer at that time, was also sent to the same sanitarium for nervous disorders. As Gilman came from a family of such well known feminists and revolutionaries, it is without a doubt that she grew up with the idea that she had the right to be treated as anyone, whether man or woman.

Not only did this strong background affect her viewpoint about things, it also affected her relations with her husband and what role she would play in that relationship. From the beginning of her marriage, she struggled with the idea of conforming to he domestic model for women. Upon repeated proposals from Stetson, her husband, Gilman tried to lay bare her torments and reservations about getting married (Lane, To Herland 85). She claimed that her thoughts, her acts, her whole life would be centered on husband and children. To do the work she needed to do, she must be free (Lane, To Herland 85).

Gilman was so scared of this idea because she loved her work and she loved freedom, though she also loved her husband very much. After a long period of uncertainty and vacillation she married Charles Stetson at 24 (Lane, Introduction x). Less than a year later, owever, feelings of nervous exhaustion immediately descended upon Gilman, and she became a mental wreck (Ceplair 17). In that period of time, she wrote many articles on women caught between families and careers and the need for women to have work as well as love (Ceplair 19).

The stress that Gilman was under of rejecting the domestic model of women led to her breakdown and caused her to meet Dr. S. Weir Mitchell. She attempted to express the tensions she felt her work, her husband, and her child in her writing. She did her best to fight against the depression but finally she collapsed tterly in April 1886 (Ceplair 19), forcing her to turn to Dr. S. Weir Mitchell, a nationally renowned neurologist in womens nervous diseases. He told Gilman that she was suffering from neurasthenia, or exhaustion of the nerves the diagnosis required his renowned rest cure (Lane, To Herland 115).

The treatment required for the cure involved 1) extended and total bed rest; 2) isolation from family and familiar surroundings (Lane, To Herland 116). The treatment was basically a version of how to be submissive and domestic according to the dominant social values outside of the sanitarium. After being reated for a month Gilman was sent home and was told to live as domestic a life as possibleand never touch pen, brush or pencil as long as you live (Lane, To Herland 121). Having a strong love for her work and being a free thinker and writer, Gilman would naturally consider this way of treatment a cruel punishment.

In her diary she wrote, I went home, followed those directions rigidly for a month and came perilously near to losing my mind (Lane, To Herland 121). In the late 1800s women did not have the opportunity to have both a career and their families. They have to give up their families if hey waned to pursue a career. Despite the great controversy she created, Gilman decided to choose her work over her family when she divorced her husband in 1887 and moved to California. A few years later, she gave her child to her ex-husband in order to lecture across the country.

In 1890 she wrote The Yellow Wallpaper in reaction to Dr. S. Weir Mitchells rest cure. In her Why I wrote The Yellow Wallpaper? in The Forerunner, Gilman portrays the years I suffered from a severe and continuous nervous breakdown and goes on to talk about the doctor who treated her and how in reaction to reatment had sent a copy to the physician who so nearly drove me mad (Gilman 19, 20). And she says, the best resultyears later I was told the treat specialist had admitted to friends of his that he had altered his treatment of neurasthenia since reading The Yellow Wallpaper (Gilman 20).

Despite what Gilman said, we can sense a tone of this work being close to her emotional and psychological reality. Besides, many studies have been carried out to find what Gilmans intent was in writing The Yellow Wallpaper. Joanne Karpinski says, one theme that seems to run through all her worksis desire for order and coherence in lived experience (3) while Lane suggests, (it) is an intensely personal examination of Gilmans private nightmare (To Herland 127). This implies that she wrote this story to sort through her emotions and fears in her own life.

If her revenge for Dr. Mitchell is part of the reason in writing this work, it is also true that her creation of this story allows her to reveal her emotional and psychological state of mind. Even though The Yellow Wallpaper is just a story that is most probably fictitious, there are amazing similarities between Gilmans real life experience and what s depicted in the story. Lane describes one of Gilmans diary entry where she wrote, I made a rag babyhung it on the doorknob and played with it. I would crawl into remote closets and under beds — to hide from the grinding pressure of that profound distress (To Herland 121).

This is amazingly similar to what is described of the narrator in the story, who crawls and creeps in the corners of the room. Gilman showed her emotions in the story and tried to discover what happens to our lives if we let others run them for us (Lane, introduction xviii). The attempts to discover was hard for her (it) must have aunted Gilman all her life because it answered the question: what if she had not fled her husband and renounced the most advance psychiatric advice of her time? Lane, Introduction xviii).

The Yellow wallpaper is a testament to Gilmans own life experience. We can feel the tough decisions she made and how those decisions affected her emotionally as Lane puts it, perhaps the emotional truth and intensity of The Yellow Wallpaper drained her; perhaps it frightened her (To Herland 127). Gilman delved deep into her emotions and feelings in The Yellow Wallpaper and that is why it is Gilmans best-know work today (Charters 318).

Charlotte Perkins Gilmans The Yellow Wallpaper and James Joyces The Boarding House

Constraint is present in Charlotte Perkins Gilmans The Yellow Wallpaper and James Joyces The Boarding House. In both short stories, society has placed the main characters and their lives under its evil grip. All the characters live under a blanket of limitations that society has placed upon them and the short stories show their battle to break away from societys constraints. Societal constraint is explored by both authors in order to convey along to the reader a message.

This common theme for both short stories is used to show the grip society really has on us and how it affects different people. Society has always had an influence on the way people think and act. Many beliefs and actions viewed as unique are many times shunned upon by members of society. This constraint on being an individual is explored in Gilmans The Yellow Wallpaper and Joyces The Boarding House. Both authors show how societys constraints put stress on individuals lives. In some cases this stress is good for the characters, but for some characters societys constraints are too much.

Gilman uses The Yellow Wallpaper to illustrate the control man has over women in modern day society. The wife in The Yellow Wallpaper goes through a nervous depression during the short story. Gilman never really comes out and states the reasons behind the wifes mental condition, but throughout the short story she constantly makes references to the womans sense of inferiority to her husband, John. In The Yellow Wallpaper, John is used to represent all men and their feelings toward women. Although men do not consciously take control over females live, they still do.

It has always been mans nature to take charge and be the dominant gender. The wife always wants to please the husband and listen to his word as though it was law. She never wants to displease her husband or go against any of his advice. This is apparent when the wife quits writing, which calms her down, just because her husband feels that it would be better for her. The wife takes the mans advice in this situation, because that is what society has trained her to do. In her mind she is not her own person, she is only Johns wife.

When John decides that the best treatment for his wife would be time away from their normal life he rents out an old mansion for the couple to live in during the summer. Even though the wife does not like the idea, she still follows the man, because society says he knows what is best for her. When the couple arrives at the mansion the time away from home seems to have the opposite effect on the wife that John intended. Her mental condition begins to worsen and her sense of despair continues to grow.

The main reason for this continued depression is the bedroom in which the couple stays. The windows were barred like a prisons and the huge, immovable bed sits in the middle of the room. The walls were covered with yellow, patterned wallpaper that constantly caught the wifes attention. The yellow wallpaper on the wall would eventually become a representation of societys constraint on individual feminism. The yellow wallpaper begins to bother the wife so much that she eventually loses her mind, completely.

At the end the husband finds the wife ripping off the wallpaper in the bedroom. This was the women tearing down the control her husband has over her. At the end of the story she is finally free. Joyce uses a totally different approach to societys constraints on life. In The Boarding House a women, Mrs. Mooney, is trying to find a suitable husband for her daughter, Polly. Mrs. Mooney runs a boarding house in England during the late nineteenth century, and to just let her daughter run off would be unacceptable in societys eyes.

Nevertheless, Mrs. Mooney lets Polly have her way with the male residents of the boarding house. Mrs. Mooney watches silently as Polly begins to grow fond of Mr. Doran, a resident of the boarding house. The rumors start to make their way around the house regarding Mr. Doran and an affair with the young Polly. At this point in the story Mrs. Mooney realizes that she has societys opinion on her side about premarital affairs and what a better time than then to confront the two about the relationship.

With societys constraint on premarital affairs and other proper courting of a woman, Mr. Doran is obligated to ask for Pollys hand in marriage. His reputation and more importantly his job depended on him following society. We conform to what society wants us too. That is just mankinds nature, to always follow what everyone is doing. The wife saw all the men in her life as superior to her and she always obeyed them. Finally she overcame her husbands constraint on her and in her own bizarre way she broke away from societys constraints. Mrs. Mooney uses societys opinion and power to her advantage in The Boarding House.

Mr. Dorans fear of social disapproval was enough to force him into a marriage that may have never happened under different circumstances. Constraint is an integral part of our life and how we make decisions. It affects how we act and what we believe. Joyce and Gilman use this common human weakness to relate their short stories to the reader and convey the fact that we cant let everything be decided for us. Everyone has their right to make their own decision and society should not stand in the way.

The Yellow Wallpaper And The Metamorphosis

Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” and Franz Kafka’s “Metamorphosis” contain many similarities. They both have the common theme of the deterioration of the main character’s life and mind, as well as the theme of the ostracism of outcasts in society. They also both deal with the main characters gaining a freedom through the demise of their previous lives. The woman in “The Yellow Wallpaper” is slowly deteriorating in mental state. When she first moves into the room in the old house, the wallpaper intrigues her.

Its pattern entrances her and makes her wonder about its makeup. But slowly her obsession with the wallpaper grows, taking over all of her time. She starts to see the pattern moving, and imagines it to be a woman trapped behind the wallpaper. The total deterioration of her sanity is reached when she becomes the woman she imagined in the wallpaper and begins creeping around the room. Similar to the woman in Gilman’s story, Gregor, in “The Metamorphosis,” watches as his life slowly deteriorates.

He woke up one morning to find himself to have taken the shape of a bug. But early on he tried to continue in his normal activities; he focused on how he was going to make it to the train station so he did not miss his train, and how his employer would be upset with his absence from work. Then he begins to realize that he is a bug, and he cannot live his life the same way he used to. His sister begins to take care of him, and he loses touch with everything human that he used to know. His mother and father take away all of his furniture and other possessions.

Gregor’s family come to the agreement that the bug must be eliminated, it was not Gregor, and it would never be him. Eventually Gregor stops eating and comes to the realization that he has to die so that his family can move on. This was illustrated in Gregor’s last thought, “He thought of his family with tenderness and love. The decision that he must disappear was one that he held to even more strongly than his sister, if that were possible”(p. 825). The deterioration of Gregor’s life was in part due to the ostracism associated with his being turned into a bug.

Once his family found out what happened, they banished him to his room, and his parents could not even bear to look at him. Prior to his metamorphosis, Gregor was an integral part of the family. He provided the money by which the family survived. Yet as soon as he changed, he was labeled an outcast, who was useless to the family, and therefore not paid any attention. He felt this ostracism, and it made him not want to continue on in life, he gave up because he felt unloved. Likewise, the woman in “The Yellow Wallpaper” was confined because of her mental illness.

She, most likely, was suffering from post-partum depression, after the birth of her child. Instead of getting love and attention, and being able to see her child, she was sent to live in a room in a foreign house. She was not allowed out of the one room that her husband picked out. Although she yearned to see the gardens and the rest of the house, her husband would not let her. It was as though she was being punished for her illness. I believe that her confinement had an effect on the progression of her insanity, similar to the way Gregor’s ostracism and confinement led to his death.

She was forced to look at the yellow wallpaper day in and day out, making her more insane each day. Even though Gregor eventually died, and the woman in “The Yellow Wallpaper” fell into the depths of insanity, it seems they both gained some sort of freedom through the deterioration of their former lives. Gregor gained a freedom from the restrictiveness of his parents. Previously, he had to go to a job that he did not even like in order to support a greedy and materialistic family. Through his death he was able to leave a life that was not even fulfilling.

In a similar way to Gregor, I believe that the woman in “The Yellow Wallpaper” gained a kind of freedom through the deterioration of her sanity and her previous life. Her life before her confinement did not seem all that great to begin with. It seems as though her husband controlled every aspect of her life. But as she became more involved with finding out about this “woman” in the wallpaper, she gained a freedom from her husband. This is highlighted by her final act in the story. She said, “ I’ve got out at last, in spite of you and Jane.

And I’ve pulled off most of the paper, so you can’t put me back! ”(p. 588). And she proceeded to step over her husband, who had fainted on the floor. This act of stepping over him can be seen as her overcoming his total control over her life. She was now taking control, almost taking over the role that he had previously occupied. In conclusion, the stories of “The Yellow Wallpaper” and “The Metamorphosis” have clear similarities in theme. The main characters go through life-altering changes, causing them to be perceived as outcasts.

They also eventually gain a freedom from these changes. These stories seem to show that such the shedding of a previous life is not always a bad thing, as much as it might seem that way at the time. Although Gregor’s metamorphosis into a bug was not a convenient change, it helped him to see how his family really was, and how little they cared about him. And the woman’s deteriorating mental health helped her to gain a new life and a freedom from her husband. In our lives, change may not always be a bad thing.

The Yellow Wallpaper – A Descent into Madness

In the nineteenth century, women in literature were often portrayed as submissive to men. Literature of the period often characterized women as oppressed by society, as well as by the male influences in their lives. The Yellow Wallpaper presents the tragic story of a woman’s descent into depression and madness. Gilman once wrote Women’s subordination will only end when women lead the struggle for their own autonomy, thereby freeing man as well as themselves, because man suffers from the distortions that come from dominance, just as women are scarred by the subjugation imposed upon them (Lane 5).

The Yellow Wallpaper brilliantly illustrates this philosophy. The narrator’s declining mental health is reflected through the characteristics of the house she is trapped in and her husband, while trying to protect her, is actually destroying her. The narrator of the story goes with her doctor/husband to stay in a colonial mansion for the summer. The house is supposed to be a place where she can recover from severe postpartum depression. She loves her baby, but knows she is not able to take care of him. It is fortunate Mary is so good with the baby. Such a dear baby!

And yet I cannot be with him, it makes me so nervous (Gilman 642). The symbolism utilized by Gilman is somewhat askew from the conventional. A house usually symbolizes security. In this story the opposite is true. The protagonist, whose name we never learn, feels trapped by the walls of the house, just as she is trapped by her mental illness. The windows of her room, which normally would symbolize a sense of freedom, are barred, holding her in. (Biedermann 179, 382). From the outset the reader is given a sense of the domineering tendencies of the narrator’s husband, John.

The narrator tells us: John is a physician, and perhaps (I would not say it to a living soul, of course, but this is dead paper and a great relief to my mind) perhaps that is one reason I do not get well faster (Gilman 640). It is painfully obvious that she feels trapped and unable to express her fears to her husband. You see, he does not believe I am sick. And what can one do? If a physician of high standing and one’s own husband assures friends and relatives that there is really nothing the matter with one but temporary nervous depression a slight hysterical tendency what is one to do?

Her husband is not the only male figure who dominates and oppresses her. Her brother, also a doctor, says the same thing (Gilman 640-641). Because the story is written in diary format, we feel especially close to this woman. We are in touch with her innermost thoughts. The dominance of her husband, and her reaction to it, is reflected throughout the story. The narrator is continually submissive, bowing to her husband’s wishes, even though she is unhappy and depressed. Her husband has adopted the idea that she must have complete rest if she is to recover.

This is a direct parallel to Gilman’s life, wherein during her illness she was treated by a doctor who introduced her to the rest cure. She was instructed to live a domestic life, only engage in intellectual activities two hours a day, and never to touch pen, brush, or pencil again as long as she lived (Gilman 640). In this story, the narrator’s husband, John, does not want her to work. So I . . . am absolutely forbidden to work’ until I am well again(Gilman 641). John does not even want her to write.

There comes John, and I must put this away he hates to have me write a word(Gilman 642). It is also a direct allusion to Gilman’s personal experience that the narrator is experiencing severe postpartum depression. Gilman suffered from the same malady after the birth of her own daughter (Gilman 639). It is interesting that the room her husband chooses for them, the room the narrator hates, is the nursery. The narrator describes the nursery as having barred windows and being atrocious (Gilman 641-642).

The narrator’s response to the room is a further example of her submissive behavior. I don’t like our room a bit. I wanted one downstairs that opened onto the piazza and had roses all over the window, and such pretty old fashioned chintz hangings! But John would not hear of it (Gilman 641). Although she is practically a prisoner in the room, she is given no voice in choosing or decorating it. She attempts to justify John’s treatment of her. He is very careful and loving, and hardly lets me stir without special direction.

I have a schedule . . . I feel basely ungrateful not to value it more(Gilman 641). Even though she knows that writing and socializing would help her recover faster, she still allows the male figures in her life to dominate and control her treatment. I sometimes fancy that in my condition, if I had less opposition and more society and stimulus but John says the very worst thing I can do is to think about my condition, and I confess it always makes me feel bad(Gilman 641). I believe that the narrator’s husband loves her very much.

He is tender with her and speaks to her in a loving, sometimes child-like manner. However, he obviously does not want anyone knowing the extent of his wife’s mental illness, referring to it as a temporary nervous depression a slight hysterical tendency (Gilman 641). I believe this is also a reflection of the way women and mental illness were perceived in the nineteenth century. Women were supposed to let their men take care of them, and mental illness was often swept under the carpet. The husband, John, did not want the stigma of mental illness tied to his family.

He says that no one but myself can help me out of it, that I must use my will and self-control and not let any silly fancies run away with me. (Gilman 645). In reading this story I had to constantly remind myself that society today treats mental illness differently, and that this was written from a nineteenth century perspective. The narrator continues to repress her own needs and allow her husband to dominate. Seeing the wallpaper in the bedroom, she writes: I never saw a worse paper in my life one of those sprawling, flamboyant patterns committing every artistic sin (Gilman 642).

It is also interesting to note that the bed in the room is a great immovable bed which is nailed down (Gilman 644). I wondered if this was a metaphoric reference to her husband’s attitude about her illness. As she looks out the window, she can see the garden. She describes flowers, paths, and arbors. All that she sees outside is beautiful. Just as Gilman uses the room the woman hates as a metaphor for her mental illness, she uses the beautiful garden as a metaphor for the mental health the woman craves. The narrator’s husband also stifles these thoughts.

I always fancy I see people waling in these numerous paths and arbors, but John has cautioned me not to give way to fancy in the least. He says that with my imaginative power and habit of story-making, a nervous weakness like mine is sure to lead to all manner of excited fancies, and that I ought to use my good will and good sense to check the tendency. So I try (Gilman 642). The more time she spends in the room, the more obsessed with the wallpaper she becomes. In her mind, the wallpaper becomes more than just wallpaper. It takes on human characteristics.

This paper looks to me as if it knew what a vicious influence it had (Gilman 643)! When the story begins the narrator refers to the house as haunted. This theme is again brought to the forefront when she begins describing the wallpaper. There is a recurrent spot where the pattern lolls like a broken neck and two bulbous eyes stare at you upside down (Gilman 643). Gilman’s sensory descriptions are ingenious. The descriptions are intense and detailed. They make the reader a part of the story, increase suspense, and help the reader’s perception of the particular kind of insanity that afflicts the narrator (Cunningham par.

In reading the story we are provided not only detailed visual images, but vivid olfactory descriptions as well. We are told: But there is something else about that paper the smell! I noticed it the moment we came into the room, but with so much air and sun it was not bad. Now we have had a week of fog and rain, and whether the windows are open or not, the smell is here. It creeps all over the house. I find it hovering in the dining-room, skulking in the parlor, hiding in the hall, lying in wait for me on the stairs. It gets into my hair.

Even when I go to ride, if I turn my head suddenly and surprise it-there is that smell! Such a peculiar odor, too! I have spent hours trying to analyze it, to find what it smelled like. It is not bad — at first, very gentle, but quite the subtlest, most enduring odor I ever met. In this damp weather it is awful. I wake up in the night and find it hanging over me. It used to disturb me at first. I thought seriously of burning the houseto reach the smell. But now I am used to it. The only thing I can think of that it is like is the color of the paper! A yellow smell. (Cunningham par. Gilman 647)

The combination of Gilman’s words, and the short choppy sentence structure, combine to allow the reader grasp the depths of the narrator’s insanity. In addition to the sense of smell, the reader is also captured by the sense of touch. The narrator tells us: The faint figure behind seemed to shake the pattern, just as if she wanted to get out. I got up softly and went to feel and see if the paper did move and when I came back John was awake (Gilman 645). She further tells us: The front pattern does move and no wonder! The woman behind shakes it(Gilman 647)!

It is through these compelling descriptions, utilizing the reader’s senses, that Gilman is pulling the reader into the narrator’s world . . . these descriptions nearly perfectly encapsulate what we might all imagine it is like to be insane(Cunningham par. 5). It is as if the haunting images of the wallpaper mirror the haunting feelings inside the narrator’s mind. The heroine, unable to openly express her feelings to anyone, begins to see herself through the wallpaper. She imagines a woman trapped behind the wallpaper, just as she is trapped in the room and in her mind.

The wallpaper, and the barrier it poses to the woman behind it, as imagined by the narrator, mirror the narrator’s own thoughts about being confined in a room with barred windows. At night in any kind of light, in twilight, candlelight, lamplight, and worst of all by moonlight, it becomes bars! The outside pattern, I mean, and the woman behind it is as plain as can be (Gilman 646). The heroine is also behind bars. I am getting angry . . . but the bars are too strong . . . (Gilman 649). The behavior of the woman behind the wallpaper mirrors the narrator’s behavior.

By daylight she is subdued, quiet. I fancy it is the pattern that keeps her so still. It is so puzzling. It keeps me quiet by the hour (Gilman 646). The narrator is also subdued in the daytime. I don’t sleep much at night, for it is so interesting to watch developments; but I sleep a good deal during the daytime (Gilman 647). Another parallel between the actions of the narrator and the woman behind the wallpaper is reflected when the narrator looks out the window and sees her in that long shaded lane, creeping up and down. I see her in those dark grape arbors, creeping around the garden.

I see her on that long road under the trees, creeping along, and when a carriage comes she hides under the blackberry vines. I don’t blame her a bit. It must be very humiliating to be caught creeping by daylight: (Gilman 648)! The narrator is expressing her own humiliation in having to sneak around. I always lock the door when I creep by daylight. I can’t do it at night, for I know John would suspect something at once(Gilman 648). Similarly, while her husband is away, the narrator sometimes will walk a little in the garden or down that lovely lane, sit on the porch under the roses, . (Gilman 644).

As the narrator realizes the meaning of the wallpaper, her life begins to change. Life is much more exciting now than it used to be. You see, I have something more to expect, to look forward to, to watch. I really do eat better, and am more quiet than I was (Gilman 647). It is apparent that she is still feeling imprisoned by her husband. I suppose I shall have to get back behind the pattern when it comes night, and that is hard (Gilman 649)! However, she has decided to rebel and break free. I’ve got out at last,’ said I, in spite of you and Jane.

And I’ve pulled off most of the paper so you can’t put me back’ (Gilman 650)! Because the story is somewhat autobiographical, Gilman is able to vividly portray a woman’s descent into madness. She wrote the story to effect change in the treatment of depressive women (Gilman 640). She once stated that It was not intended to drive people crazy, but to save people from being driven crazy (Anderson par. 10). The story brilliantly depicts a woman whose opinions and feelings have never been acknowledged or recognized as valid in the real world.

The room, and particularly the wallpaper she hates so much, become the center of her world her voice. She realizes the woman in the wallpaper is herself, and is finally able to break free. Perhaps it can all be summed up in this exchange: John is so pleased to see me improve! He laughed a little the other day, and said I seemed to be flourishing in spite of my wallpaper. I turned it off with a laugh. I had no intention of telling him it was because of the wallpaper . . . (Gilman 647).

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Reflecting their role in society, women in literature are often portrayed in a position that is dominated by men. Especially in the nineteenth century, women were repressed and controlled by their husbands as well as other male influences. “The Yellow Wallpaper”, written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, is a story of a woman, her psychological difficulties and her husband’s so called therapeutic treatment of her aliments during the late 1800s. The story begins with a young woman and her husband traveling to the country for the summer and for the healing powers of being away from writing which just seems to worsen her condition.

Upon reading this intense description of an almost prison like prescription for overcoming “temporary nervous depression” the reader is permeated with the idea the men are nothing more than the wardens in the lives of women. In the story the protagonist is oppressed and represents the effect of the oppression of women in society. This effect is created by the use of complex symbols such as the house, the window, and the wall-paper which facilitate her oppression as well as her self expression.

Usually we find the symbol of the house as representing a secure place for a woman’s transformation and her release of self expression. However, in this story, the house is not her own and she does not want to be in it. She declares it is “haunted,”(4) and that “there is something queer about it. “(4) Although she acknowledges the beauty of the house and especially what surrounds it, she constantly goes back to her feeling that “there is something strange about the house”(4).

Her impression is like a premonition for the transformation that takes place in herself while she is there. In this way the house still is the cocoon for her transformation. It does not take the form of the traditional symbol of security for the domestic activities of a woman, but it does allow for and contain her metamorphosis. The house also facilitates her release, accommodating her, her writing and her thoughts. These two activities evolve because of the fact that she is kept in the house.

One specific characteristic of the house that symbolizes not only her potential but also her trapped feeling is the window. Traditionally this symbol represents a view of possibilities, but now it also becomes a view to what she does not want to see. Through it she sees all that she could be and everything that she could have. But she says near the end, “I don’t like to look out of the windows even – there are so many of those creeping women, and they creep so fast”(16).

She knows that she has to hide and lie low; she has to creep in order to be a part of society and she does not want to see all the other women who have to do the same because she knows they are a reflection of herself. “Most women do not creep by daylight,”(15) expresses the fact that they need to hide in the shadows; they try to move without being seen. The window is no longer a gateway for her; she can not enter to the other side of it, literally, because John will not let her, (there are bars holding her in), but also because that world will not belong to her.

She will still be controlled and be forced to stifle her self-expression. She will still be forced to creep. More immediate to facilitating her metamorphosis than the house itself is the room she is in and the characteristics of that room, the most important being the yellow wall-paper which also plays a double role: it has the ability to trap her in with its intricacy of pattern that leads her to no satisfying end, bars that hold in and separate the woman in the wall-paper from her. But it also sets her free.

She describes the wall-paper as being the worst thing she has ever seen: “the color is repellant, almost revolting; a smoldering unclean yellow, strangely faded by the slow-turning sun. ” She is stuck in this room and the only thing she has that allows her to escape is the wall-paper. She cannot go out, because her husband has taken such control over her activities that all she can do is sit and watch this paper. She also says in her first reference to it that, “I should hate it myself if I had to live in this room long.

She becomes absorbed in the patterns of the paper and tries to follow them to an end. In this process she has begun her transformation, allowing herself to be completely drawn in to her fantasies and not being afraid of what is happening to her. John, her husband, tells her to resist them, but she does not. Her awareness of the changes in her and her efforts to foster them and see them through to an end demonstrate a bravery that is not often acknowledged in women. She is going mad; this is the mad woman in the attic, but she is not scared.

She also realizes, finally, that the image in the wall-paper is not another woman; it is herself as well as all women in general and therefore all the women trapped by society. These complex symbols used in “The Yellow Wall-Paper” create Gilman’s portrayal of the oppression of women in the nineteenth century. Her twist on traditional symbols that usually provide a sense of security and safety adds to this woman’s own oppression, contribute to the trapped feeling. Gilman pushes this to the limit by taking those characteristics closely associated with women and uses them against the narrator, to assist in her own oppression.

‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ vs. ‘The Story of an Hour’

‘The Yellow Wallpaper’;, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and ‘The Story of an Hour’;, by Kate Chopin, are alike in that both of the women in the stories were controlled by their husbands which caused them to feel an intense desire for freedom. Both stories were also written from a feminist point of view. However, the women in the stories had different life changes and different responses to their own freedom as a result of that change. In both stories the women’s husbands had direct control over their lives.

In ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’; the narrator’s husband controlled her both mentally and physically. He does not allow her to have any sort of mental or physical stimulation. She is virtually imprisoned in her bedroom, supposedly to allow her to rest and recover her health. She is forbidden to work and not even supposed to write. She does not even have a say in the location or decor of the room she is forced to spend almost even moment in. Furthermore, visitors are absolutely not allowed.

She says, ‘It is so discouraging not to have any advice and companionship about my work…but he says he would as soon put fireworks in my pillow-case as to let me have those stimulating people about now’;(Gilman 635). Mrs. Mallard in ‘The Story of an Hour’; had to deal with the same sort of affliction. Her husband had control over her ‘body and soul’;. She felt that he lived her life for her and did ‘not believe that anyone had the right to impose a private will on a fellow creature’; (Chopin 13).

This control caused both women to long for freedom from their husbands’ oppressive behavior. In ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’; it seems that the narrator wishes to drive her husband away. She explains, ‘John is away all day, and even some nights when his cases are serious. I am glad my case is not serious’; (Gilman 634)! This quote shows that she is glad to see her husband away so that she may be left alone to do as she pleases without interference from her husband. She is frequently rebelling against her husband’s orders.

She writes in her journal and tries to move her bed when there is no one around to see her. However, she always keeps an eye out for someone coming. The intense desire for freedom is even more obvious in ‘The Story of an Hour. ‘; Mrs. Mallard’s craving for freedom is so strong that when she is given the news of her husband’s death, she relieved that ‘there would be no one to live for her during those coming years; she would live for herself’; (Chopin 13). She yearns to live her own life without someone being there to dictate her every thought and action.

She wants to live her own life and make her own decisions without being under the constant scrutiny of her husband. Also, both ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’; and ‘The Story of an Hour’; were written from the feminist perspective. The husband’s control over their wives, and the wives intense desire for freedom from the men in their lives exhibit that the subject matter in both stories reveals feminist concerns. Through the narrator of ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’; the author is able to express her feminine viewpoint concerning the McLauchlin 3 ppressive nature of the men in her life.

This oppressive nature results in an inferiority complex being developed by the narrator. The narrator is unable to express her opinion solely because it conflicts with the male point of view. A perfect example of this is presented in the beginning passages of the story, where the narrator’s disagreement with her husband and brother’s ideas for her treatment. She states, “Personally, I disagree with their ideas. Personally, I believe that congenial work, with excitement and change, would do me good. But what is one to do? This last sentence “But what is one to do? ” exemplifies wonderfully her oppressed female stature in the society of her life (Gilman 633).

This oppressive nature is also expressed in ‘The Story of an Hour. ‘; The author shows how Mrs. Mallard is overwhelmed by her husband’s controlling nature. Mrs. Mallard express her own feminist viewpoint by saying that men shouldn’t be able to impose the own private will upon women. However, each woman experienced a different type of change in her life and reacted differently to that change.

In ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’; the narrator’s change was in her environment, and her reaction went from grief to joy. She was forced to live in a dreary room with barred windows and wallpaper she despised. She was practically imprisoned in the room, in order to allow her to rest and recover. Initially she hated the room she was confined in, especially the wallpaper. But, towards the end of the story she began to like the wallpaper and spent every waking moment looking at it. She says, ‘You see I have something more to expect, to look forward to, to watch’; (Gilman 639).

But, in ‘The Story of an Hour’; Mrs. Mallard’s change McLauchlin 4 was that her husband died, and her reaction went from grief to joy and then back to grief again. When she was initially told of her husband’s death, ‘she wept at once, with sudden, wild abandonment’; (Chopin 12). But, her grief was short lived. She soon was overcome with the joy that her husband would no longer control her. ‘Her fancy was running riot along those days ahead of her. Spring days, and summer days, and all sorts of day that would be her own’; (Chopin 13).

However, when she realized that her husband was not really dead, she was overcome by grief again. The resulting grief because her husband was not dead was so intense that it killed her. ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’; and ‘The Story of an Hour’; have many similarities between the two. Both stories had controlling husbands that directly led to the their wives yearning for freedom. The stories were also both written from a feminist point of view. But, the women had different types of life changes and different responses to the change in their life.

The major theme in The Yellow Wallpaper

A major theme in The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is that solitary confinement and exclusion from the public results in insanity. The use of imagery and setting helps illustrate this theme throughout the story. The unnamed protagonist in this story suffers from a nervous disorder which is enhanced by her feeling of being trapped within a room. The setting of the vast colonial mansion and particularly the nursery room with barred windows provides an image of loneliness and seclusion experienced by the protagonist. Another significant setting is he mansion connected by a shaded lane (66) to the beautiful bay and private wharf.

It is possible that in her mind, she sees a path which leads to the curing of her illness where happiness and good health awaits at the end. The reason the lane is shaded is because she is uncertain whether or not this path can be traveled. Upon moving into the mansion, she immediately becomes obsessed with the nursery room wallpaper with sprawling, flamboyant patterns committing every artistic sin (64). Her days and nights are so uneventful that she finds relief in writing a journal hich becomes more tiresome as her sickness progresses.

In every few paragraphs in her journal, she analyzes the wallpaper. Through the imagery she evokes from the wallpaper, it can be seen that she is really analyzing herself and her illness subconsciously. For example, she begins to see a strange, provoking, formless sort of figure that seems to skulk about behind that silly and conspicuous front design (67). She describes her illness (as seen in the wallpaper) as not arranged on any laws of radiation, or alternation, or repetition, or symmetry, or anything else that I ever heard of (68).

In other words, she cannot make any sense of what is causing her illness. A pivotal moment in the story is when the woman protagonist is concerned only with the yellow wallpaper in her journal. In lieu of her obsession with the wallpaper, she becomes engaged in the actions of the women she sees in the wallpaper which, of course, is really her own actions. The women is all the time trying to climb through [the wallpaper] (72). At this moment, she is desperate to escape her illness but she is unable to because her confinement in the room has already affected her more so than she realizes.

The imagery of this situation is described when the pattern strangles [the women] off and turns them upside down, and makes their eyes white! (72). In the end or in her last day at the mansion, the isolation intensifies her illness to the point where she is no longer curable and insanity takes over. The protagonist finally recognizes the fact that the women she witnesses is really her own frame of mind and proclaims I shall have to get back behind the pattern when it comes night, and that is hard! (75). She believes that she has at last gained her freedom from the illness when in reality, the exact opposite has occurred.

Women according to Charlote Perkins Gilmores The Yellow Wallpaper

Traditionally, men have held the power in society. Women have been treated as a second class of citizens with neither the legal rights nor the respect of their male counterparts. Culture has contributed to these gender roles by conditioning to these gender roles by conditioning women to accept their subordinate status while encouraging young men to lead and control. Feminist criticism contends that literature either supports societys patriarchal structure or provides social criticism in order to change this hierarchy.

The Yellow Wallpaper, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, depicts one womens struggle against the traditional female role into which society attempts to force her and the societal reaction to this act. From the beginning of this work, the woman is shown to have gone mad. We are given no insight into the past, and we do not know why she has been driven to the brink of insanity. The beautiful English place that the woman sees in her minds eye is the way men have traditionally wanted women to see their role in society.

As the woman says, It is quite alone standing well back from the road It makes me think of English places for there are hedges and walls and gates that lock, and lots of separate little houses for the gardeners and people. There is a delicious garden! I never saw such a garden large and shady, full of box-bordered paths, and lined with long grape-covered arbors with seats under them. This lovely English countryside picture that this woman paints to the reader is a shallow view at the real likeness of her prison.

The reality of things is that this lovely place is her small living space, and in it she is to function as every other good housewife should The description of her cell, versus the reality of it, is a very good example of the restriction women had in those days. They were free to see things as they wanted, but there was no real chance at a woman changing her roles and place in society. This is mostly attributed to the small amount of freedom women had, and therefore they could not bring about a drastic change, because men were happy with the position women filled.

This creates a despair, of hopelessness and of downheartedness. The woman, on multiple occasions, wrote down, And what can one do? This lets the reader know that women as a whole were very oppressed in this time. They had a role, and had to stick to it. In fact, their roles were so minor that at one point, she writes, He is very careful and loving, and hardly lets me stir without special direction. In this, one may begin to realize that men had such a high ranking over women, that the small amount of freedom a woman had was basically dictated still by her husband.

Men often times did not know much about their wife, or care to sit down and talk with her. They did not take great care to know how she was doing, or why she was feeling the way she was. The woman says,John does not know how much I really suffer. He knows there is no reason to suffer, and that satisfies him. The woman is showing a small amount of frustration towards her husband, because he does not concern himself with such small things. The role of women in society was displayed quite clearly by the entrance of Johns sister. The woman writes, There comes Johns sister.

Such a dear girl as she is, and so careful of me! I must not let her find me writing. She is a perfectionist and enthusiastic housekeeper, and hopes for no better profession. I verily believe she thinks it is the writing which makes me sick! Johns sister is representative of the typical woman. A woman who is pleased with her life, and wishes for no more. Johns wife, however, is rebelling on her place in society by writing. This is why she includes the statement; I verily believe she thinks it is the writing which makes me sick! Women were quite noticeably looked down upon in years past.

The quote from the womans writings states, I got up softly and went to feel and see if the paper did move, and when I came back John was awake. What is it, little girl? he said. Dont go walking about like that youll get cold The inclusion of him saying little girl shows that no matter what she does, she will not be considered equal. Soon into the story, the woman begins to see a reflection of herself. Besides the psychological factors of her thinking it is really a woman trapped in the walls, there are mediforicle implications of the women trapped in a male society.

This woman is trapped in the walls, which represents the typical woman, and how the narrator feels. The woman does not want to go back into the walls where the other women are. She feels that the other woman wants to free herself from the bondage of the walls. The woman in the walls will claw at the paper trying to free herself. This is a task that, no matter the effort, is almost always useless. The cell becomes more of a jail than a vacation home to the woman by the first few weeks. She writes, At night in any kind of light, in twilight, candle light, lamplight, and worst of all by moonlight, it becomes bars!

The outside pattern, I mean, and the woman behind it is as plain as can be. I didnt realize for a long time what the thing that showed behind, that dim sub-pattern, but now I am quite sure it is a woman. This passage depicts how she is feeling that her traditional place is not enough, and it is becoming trapping, instead of freeing. The woman begins to creep at times, but only by the nights. The woman writes, she is always creeping, and most women do not creep by daylight. The pressure of all that John expects is weighing down heavily on Gilmanas protaganist.

She is breaking free, but only when no one is around to see her rebellion. In the final moments of this story, John returns to see her. She writes, He stopped short by the door. What is the matter? he cried. For Gods sake, what are you doing! I kept on creeping just the same, but I looked at him over my shoulder. Ive got out at last, said I, in spite of you and Jane. And Ive pulled off most of the paper, so you cant put me back! Now why should that man have fainted, but he did, and right across my path by the wall, so that I had to creep over him every time!

This final passage shows that, when this woman rebels, and escapes the wallpaper , noone else sees it as a victory but her. The woman made a power statement, by telling her husband that she had, in essence, found a new role in life, and he can not push her back. When he can not handle her actions, she continues her new ways right over him. In conclusion, this story;The Yellow Wall-Paper, shows at great depths mans given power of women and womens born subordinate nature. It also shows the reader how women have progressed so far in the recent years.

Charlotte Perkins Gilmans short story, The Yellow Wallpaper

The narrator in Charlotte Perkins Gilmans short story, The Yellow Wallpaper, is truly insane from the very beginning of the story; she just falls deeper and deeper into insanity as the story progresses. In the beginning of the story she tells of how her husband diagnoses her insanity, a slight hysterical tendency,(633). Later in the story she admits her own condition, I get unreasonably angry with John sometimesI think it is due to this nervous condition. (634).

John, her husband, makes her stay in bed and rest through the story; this contributes to her gradual slide into complete insanity. She begins to show signs of her schizophrenia. She sits in her room starring at the walls and begins to envision people stuck behind the wallpaper. She talks to them and plots to help release them. The front pattern does moveand no wonder! The woman behind shakes it! (640). They get through, and the pattern strangles them off and turns them upside down, and makes their eyes white! (640).

This schizophrenia later changes into, a multiple personality, as she believes that she is the woman that is trapped behind the paper. The whole time the wallpaper moves because she is creeping around the room in a frantic circle that she cannot stop. There is a very funny mark on this wall, low down, near the mopboard. A streak that runs around the room. (640). She made this streak by her unending creep around the room, But here I can creep smoothly on the floor, and my shoulder just fits in that long smooch around the wall, so I cannot lose my way.

In the end she tells John, Ive got out at last, in spite of you and Jane. And Ive pulled off most of the paper so you cant put me back. (643). At this John faints, but she remains in the room continuing to creep, for she believes that she is this woman that creeps out among the trees, down the road, and everywhere outside. By the end of the story she has drifted into her own little world with only a finger left grasping at reality.

The Yellow Wallpaper Study of Insanity

The “Yellow Wallpaper,” is a personal account of the author’s, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, struggle with depression. It vividly documents one woman’s experience with depression and the toil she endured through the treatment of the “Rest Cure. ” The story helps readers to get a mental picture of how society and solitary confinement can both drive a person into sheer madness. In the story, the narrator has just given birth to a child and is experiencing, what we call today, Post Partum Depression. With this in mind, her husband has decided to put her to rest for the summer.

He confines her to a room that resembles more of a jail cell than a bedroom, and refuses to allow her to work for, ” with my imaginative power and habit of story making, a nervous weakness like mine is sure to lead to all manner of excited fancies” (Gilman, Par 61) Though this is meant to alleviate the condition and help the narrator to return to the role of mother and wife, it quickly becomes worse than the disease itself. As her imprisonment continues, the narrator becomes more and more unable to exercise dominion over her mind.

She finds solace in her surroundings and becomes increasingly obsessed with the yellow wallpaper in her bedroom. the pattern is torturing. You think you have mastered it, but just as you get well underway in following, it turns back-somersault and there you are. It slaps you in the face knocks you down, and tramples upon you. It is like a bad dream. ” (Gil, Par. 145) Though, at first she had immediate dislike for the wallpaper describing it as, “One of those sprawling flamboyant patterns committing every artistic sin. ” (Gilman, Par. 35) The paper does, indeed, begin to fascinate her and she becomes more engrossed in uncovering its secrets.

Eventually it becomes the center of her life and her only concern, and she spends days and nights concentrating her thoughts on the patterns and the figures that lay beneath it. “But in the places where it isn’t faded and where the sun is just so- I can see a strange, provoking, formless sort of figure, that seems to skulk about behind that silly and conspicuous front design. ” (Gilman, Pars. 80-81) While the paper continues to provide a haven for the narrator, there seems to be a deeper meaning in it that reflects her mental state. As she analyzes the paper more and more, the woman behind the patterned walls becomes gradually more apparent.

I didn’t realize for a long time what the thing was that showed behind, that dim sub-pattern, but now I am quite sure it is a woman. ” (Gilman, Par 154) It becomes quite evident that this “woman,” is, in actuality, a projection of the narrator herself, and represents the feminine confinement that she has endured through her husband’s “rest cure. ” The woman she sees is trying to break free and, ” takes hold of the bars and shakes them hard. “(Gilman, Par. 191) This struggle for freedom is a reflection of the narrator’s own desire to break free and leave the house that has robbed her of her personal and feminine liberty.

As her mental state unravels, she sees more and more activity in the paper, and eventually feels the need to physically pull the paper off. By doing this both she and the woman have liberated themselves from the masculine oppression of her husband, society, and the oppression she has contributed to herself by allowing her husband to confine her as he’s done. Thus the pattern of the wallpaper, not only, reflects the mental state of the narrator, but also reflects the limits society places on women and the resistance to women who are trying to break free.

The Yellow Wallpaper – Journey into Insanity

In “The Yellow Wallpaper”, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, the dominant/submissive relationship between an oppressive husband and his submissive wife pushes her from depression into insanity. Flawed human nature seems to play a great role in her breakdown. Her husband, a noted physician, is unwilling to admit that there might really be something wrong with his wife. This same attitude is seen in her brother, who is also a physician. While this attitude, and the actions taken because of it, certainly contributed to her breakdown; it seems to me that there is a rebellious spirit in her.

Perhaps unconsciously she seems determined o prove them wrong. As the story begins, the woman — whose name we never learn — tells of her depression and how it is dismissed by her husband and brother. “You see, he does not believe I am sick! And what can one do? If a physician of high Kelly Flynn pg 2 standing, and one’s own husband, assures friends and relatives that there is really nothing the matter with one but temporary nervous depression — a slight hysterical tendency — what is one to do? ” (Gilman 165).

These two men — both doctors — seem completely unable to admit that there might be more to her condition than than just stress and a slight nervous condition. Even when a summer in the country and weeks of bed-rest don’t help, her husband refuses to accept that she may have a real problem. Throughout the story there are examples of the dominant – submissive relationship. She is virtually imprisoned in her bedroom, supposedly to allow her to rest and recover her health. She is forbidden to work, “So I . . . am absolutely forbidden to “work” until I am well again. ” (Gilman 165).

She is not even supposed to write: “There comes John, and I must put this away — he hates to have me write a word. ” (Gilman 167). She has no say in the location or decor of the room he is virtually imprisoned in: “I don’t like our room a bit. I wanted . . . But John would not hear of it. “(Gilman 166). Kelly Flynn Pg 3 She can’t have visitors: “It is so discouraging not to have any advice and companionship about my work. . . but he says he would as soon put fireworks in my pillow-case as to let me have those stimulating people about now. ” (Gilman 169).

Probably in large part because of her oppression, she continues to decline. I don’t feel as if it was worthwhile to turn my hand over for anything. . . ” (Gilman 169). It seems that her husband is oblivious to her declining condition, since he never admits she has a eal problem until the end of the story — at which time he fainted. John could have obtained council from someone less personally involved in her case, but the only help he seeks was for the house and baby.

He obtains a nanny to watch over the children while he was away at work each day: “It is fortunate Mary is so good with the baby. ” (Gilman 168). And he had his sister Jennie take care of the house. She is a perfect and enthusiastic housekeeper. ” (Gilman 170). Kelly Flynn Pg 4 He does talk of taking her to an expert: “John says if I don’t pick up faster he shall send me to Weir Mitchell in the fall.

But she took that as a threat since he was even more domineering than her husband and brother. Her friend was under his care at one time and was telling her terrible stories about the place. Not only does he fail to get her help, but by keeping her virtually a prisoner in a room with nauseating wallpaper and very little to occupy her mind, let alone offer any kind of mental stimulation, he almost forces her to dwell on her problem.

Prison is supposed to be depressing, and she is pretty close to being a prisoner. Perhaps if she had been allowed to come and go and do as she pleased her depression might have lifted: “I think ometimes that if I were only well enough to write a little it would relieve the press of ideas and rest me. ” (Gilman 169) It seems that just being able to tell someone how she really felt would have eased her depression, but John won’t hear of it. The lack of an outlet caused the depression to worsen: “. . . I must say what I feel and think in some way — it is such a relief!

But the effort Kelly Flynn Pg 5 is getting to be greater than the relief. ” Meanwhile her reaction is to seek to prove him wrong. “John is a physician, and perhaps . . . perhaps that is one reason I do not get well faster. You see he does not elieve I am sick! And what can one do? ” (Gilman 165). It seems to me that while putting on an appearance of submission she was frequently rebelling against her husband’s orders. She writes when there is nobody around to see her, she tries to move her bed, but always keeps an eye open for someone coming.

This is obvious throughout the story. It also seems to me that, probably because of his oppressive behavior, she wants to drive her husband away. “John is away all day, and even some nights when his cases are serious. I am glad my case is not serious! ” (Gilman 167). As her breakdown approaches she actually locks him ut of her room: “I have locked the door and thrown the key down into the front path. I don’t want to go out, and I don’t want to have anybody come in, till John comes. I want to astonish him. ” (Gilman 179).

I see no reason for this other than to force him to see that he was wrong, Kelly Flynn Pg 6 and, since she knew he couldn’t tolerate hysteria, to drive him away. At the end of the story she goes completely nuts and wants to be locked in the room so that she can free the woman from the bared walls. She wants to be kept inside the room because outside you have to creep around and everything is green instead of yellow. So she continues o creep along the walls dragging her shoulder so that she does not loose her way around the room.

When her husband sees what she is doing and faints, she gets mad because he is in the way of her path and she has to creep over him. The ending quotes just go to show how messed up she really is, “I’ve got out at last,” “in spite of you and Jane. And I’ve pulled off most of the wallpaper, so you can’t put me back! ” (Gilman 180)Overall I thought the story was most interesting but slightly odd. It is truly original and I have never read a story like it. It just goes to make you think what kind of state of mind Gilman was in when she wrote it.

Descent into Insanity

In Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper,” a nervous wife, an overprotective husband, and a large, dank room covered in musty wallpaper all play important parts in driving the wife insane. The husband’s smothering attention, combined with the isolated environment, incites the nervous nature of the wife, causing her to plunge into insanity to the point she sees herself in the wallpaper. The author’s masterful use of not only the setting (of both time and place), but also of first person point of view, allows the reader to participate in the woman’s growing insanity.

In eighteen ninety – one, when the “The Yellow Wallpaper” was written, women were often treated as second – class citizens. They were, for the most part, dominated by a society controlled by men. The men were the leaders, ruling the home and the workplace; the women were under their authority. The wife, of whom this story is about, reflects this attitude society has towards her. Her husband even decides what furniture and things are to be in her room. She submits to those decisions, even to the point of agreeing with him.

This is evidenced when she says, “But he is right enough about the beds and windows and thingsI would not be so silly as to make him uncomfortable just for a whim”(472). Wives like this were regarded as possessions of the husbands, and, in light of that, they had few rights. Just as was the wife, many women were believed to be good only for bearing children and running a household. Often times the husband retained a housekeeper or some such servant so the wives only bore children and did little else.

In the case of the wife in our story, her husband, John, goes so far as to treat her like a child after the birth of their baby, as evidenced by his calling her “my darling” and “little girl” (475). He had even hired a housekeeper to take care of not only the house, but the baby as well. John also controlled almost everything in her life. In fact, the only thing he did not control was her journal writing, and even then she had to hide it from him since he did not approve of it.

When he comes she says, “I must put this (the journal) away – he hates to have me write a word”(471). Part of John’s problem 1s that he is a doctor. As a doctor, he control’s his wife’s health care, prescribing her medicines and her overall cure. As her husband, he is too emotionally involved to look at the case objectively, or if he had, he might have seen her mind going before it was too late. Not only that, the accepted “cure” at that particular time was ineffective and would only serve to make his wife worse (473).

This “cure” was the product of a certain Dr. Weir Mitchell; a nerve specialist whose theory of a “rest cure” for mentally unstable patients was later found to be unsuccessful. In the story, the husband’s ill-advised attempts to treat his wife’s symptoms drive her insane by taking all responsibility from her and forcing isolation upon her as a part of her “cure. ” Gilman emphasizes the wife’s isolation by describing to the reader where the story is set. The retreat John takes his wife to in “The Yellow Wallpaper” is a large, dilapidated Victorian mansion “quite three miles from the village” (470).

It is surrounded by extensive gardens replete with large hedges, locking gates and winding paths. This sets the mansion “well back from the road” and creates many secluded spots; intensifying the idea that the main house is well away from any outside activity (470). In fact, the wife’s first impression causes her to call it a “haunted house” and question why it’s available for lease (469). Part of the reason for her first impression that the house is falling apart is because no one has been caring for it for some time. This is apparently due to “legal trouble” involving the heirs (470).

The mansion has defied time and weather to stand in all it’s dilapidated glory. The mansion’s strength signifies that it could be a place of rest for John’s wife, just as he intended. However, that same strength could also be viewed as giving the mansion prison – like qualities. Further evidence that this last interpretation is correct is found when his wife describes her new room, which is apparently an old nursery/playroom/gymnasium. While this room is large and “airy” with many windows to let in lots of sunshine, those very windows are covered with bars (471).

With a closer glance, the reader finds that the room has a rather suspicious past. The wife describes the floor as being “scratched, gouged, and splintered,” the plaster of the walls as being “dug out in places,” the wallpaper as being “torn off in spots” and “stripped off” both at the top and the bottom; even the bed is portrayed as looking “as if it has been through wars”(473 & 471). Oddly enough the bed is bolted to the floor and it is the only piece of furniture in the room till other furniture is brought up for her.

There are “rings and things in the walls” and a “gate at the top of the stairs”(473 & 472). All these details about the room are suggestive of a room in a sanitarium. This suggestion foreshadows the wife’s eventual descent into madness. The wallpaper is the detail the wife becomes obsessed with; it serves to reflect to the reader her growing insanity. In the beginning she views it as horrid, “committing every artistic sin” (471). Even then, she goes into great detail in describing the wallpaper, more than she does any other part of the room.

The wife depicts not only the paper’s repulsive shade of yellow, but also its “sprawling, flamboyant pattern” and very poor condition (471). As her mind grows more and more unsound, she follows the pattern “by the hour,” at which time she begins to see bars in the paper; then she sees someone behind those bars (474). The reader can see and feel the wife’s insanity growing as she reacts to what she “sees” in the wallpaper. The attention she gives the wallpaper is partially due to the solitary setting of her room. She has nothing to do but stare at the wallpaper all day long.

The room is located on the top floor of the mansion, away from all the everyday happenings of the household. Here the author develops her theme of isolation by shifting the scene from the forlorn setting of the mansion to the lonely setting of the room. This parallels the narrowing of the wife’s focus from all the aspects of her surroundings to just the wallpaper, then, at the end, from the wallpaper to herself – her freedom, or lack of it. There are no outside stimuli to take her mind off the wallpaper due to her husband/doctor’s edict that she is to “rest” and not have any responsibility.

She is “to have,” she says, “perfect rest. “(471). Since she has nothing to do but study the wallpaper, she continues her search for something deeper in it until, finally, she sees herself trapped in it, the woman she sees “stooping down and creeping about” behind the pattern (475). It is at this point the wife notices the musty smell of the wallpaper as well as its shifting patterns and changing shades of yellow (476). Her noticing that the wallpaper has a musty, moldy smell shows the extent of her mind’s decay.

At the end, she notices the “women creeping” in the paper, and all she desires is to free them (478 & 479). The reader can now see that the wife has gone totally and irreversibly mad. Evidences that suggest her insanity includes creeping around the room, gnawing the bedpost in frustration, tearing paper off the walls, and then locking the door, and tossing out the key into the bushes (479, 480, & 481). However, we as readers can only fully appreciate the progress of the wife’s descent into insanity and feel for her plight because we see the situation from her perspective.

Also, because the wife has no name, the reader can put him or herself into the wife’s situation. From this perspective we get a vivid depiction of what it is like to go mad. If the story had been told from a limited omniscient or omniscient point of view, too much detail would have been given. It would have cluttered the story, lessened the reader’s sympathy for the wife, and detracted from the central theme of the story (the wife’s growing obsession with the wallpaper her increasing insanity}).

A third person participant point of view would not work either. First, John, her husband and doctor, would deny that she had a serious problem, making the reader unaware of the true situation. And again, we would feel less sympathy towards the wife. Second, if the story were narrated by the housekeeper, Jane, the reader might be given a hint that the wife was going mad, but her state of mind would be uncertain until the end. In either character’s case, the wallpaper would hold little significance to him or her.

In seeing the story through the wife’s eyes, we can see that her mental illness in “The Yellow Wallpaper” is inevitable. Between society’s view of women at that time, the husband’s attitude towards her, and his ineffective remedies, the wife’s mental instability can only grow worse. The wallpaper lets the reader follow the woman’s regression into insanity as the story progresses. Only with the first person point of view (the wife’s) can the reader follow this regression of the mind. All in all, this is a sad story of a woman’s struggle for sanity in an indifferent society.

Short story The Yellow Wallpaper

In the last half of the nineteenth century, Victorian ideals still held sway in American society, at least among members of the middle and upper classes. Thus the cult of True Womanhood was still promoted which preached four cardinal virtues for women: piety, purity, submissiveness, and domesticity. Women were considered far more religious than men and, therefore, they had to be pure in heart, mind, and, of course, body, not engaging in sex until marriage, and even then not finding any pleasure in it. They were also supposed to be passive responders to men’s decisions, actions, and needs.

The true woman’s place was her home; “females were uniquely suited to raise children,care for the needs of their menfolk, and devote their lives to creating a nurturing home environment. ” (Norton, 108). However, the tensions between old and new, traditional and untraditional , were great during the last years of nineteenth century and there was a debate among male and female writers and social thinkers as to what the role of women should be. Among the female writers who devoted their work to defying their views about the woman’s place in society were Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Kate Chopin.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860-1935) was a social activist and theorist of the women’s movement at the turn of the twentieth century. She developed her feminist ideals in her novels, short stories and nonfiction books such as Women and Economics. Charlotte Perkins Gilman is best known for her short story The Yellow Wallpaper, (1892) which is based on her own experience. As the story begins, the woman-whose name we never learn- tells of her depression and how it is being treated by her husband and brother who are both doctors.

These two men are unable to see that there is more to her condition than just a stress and depression and prescribe for her rest as a cure. The narrator is taken to a summer house to recover form her condition where she is not allowed to do anything but rest and sleep. Furthermore, she cannot do one thing that she loves the most: writing. ” I must put this away, -he hates to have me write a word. ” She spends most of her time in a room with yellow wallpaper and very little to occupy her mind with.

She becomes obsessed with discovering what is behind the pattern of the wallpaper and becomes determined that the image is a woman who is struggling to become free. The narrator wants to set this woman free, so she peels off the yellow wallpaper. Then she locks herself in the room and throws the keys out of the window. When her husband gets to the door and wants to break in, she tells him over and over again where the keys are. After he gets in and sees her creeping on the floor, he faints, and the narrator “had to creep over him every time.

Though The Yellow Wallpaper is a fiction, it was based on Gilman’s own experience after being diagnosed as a hysteric and prescribed a rest cure which prohibited her writing. However, The Yellow Wallpaper is more than a case study in mental illness or a horror story, it is a story of a dominant/submissive relationship between husband and wife. John, the narrator’s husband, never takes her seriously. At the very beginning of the story she says ” John laughs at me, of course, but one expects that in marriage.

Anytime the narrator would make a suggestion for her recovery, John would give her a ” stern reproachful look. ” Although the narrator feels desperate, John tells her that there is no reason for how she feels. He treats her like a child and makes her doubt herself. John is the man of the house and he expects the narrator to trust him completely, just as small children trust in their parents. The narrator often speaks in a manner that suggests that she cannot disagree with anything her husband says.

She is a typical nineteenth century submissive wife and her “What is one to do? eans that she has no authority and no control over her life. The idea of resting is not something she likes, she would rather work, but she has no choice. Still, she manages to disobey her husband and write her journal without him knowing it. There are many other evidences of dominant-submissive relationship, and one of the most convincing is when John says, ” I beg of you, for my sake and our child’s sake, as well as for your own” By placing himself and the baby first he is unintentionally saying that she is not important enough.

The main cause of the narrator’s mental condition is her overbearing husband who stifles her emotional and imaginative impulses and forces her to concentrate on the objects that surround her. Furthermore, this inactivity pushes her deeper into madness. John imprisons her in a room that has no escape with bars on the windows and immovable bed which is “nailed down. ” But the narrator is not just a prison of this room, she is a prison of her marriage. Her developing insanity is a form of rebellion and a way to gain her own independence.

Her struggle to set the woman in the wallpaper free symbolized her fight for independence. Kate Chopin’s The Awakening (1899) carried out the same theme of struggling woman in a dominant/ submissive relationship. However, Kate Chopin was different from Gilman because she never joined or supported organizations though which women fought to gain political, economic, and social rights equal to those of men. At the same time they both felt that relationships founded on economic dependence and household duties had to be reconsidered.

Kate Chopin and Charlotte Perkins Gilman had very different views on women’s sexuality. Gilman spoke out strongly against eroticism in women’s life while Kate Chopin concentrated mainly on the biological aspects of women’s situation and was the first writer in her country ” to accept passion as a legitimate subject for serious, outspoken fiction. ” ( Per Seyerted, 198) The Awakening tells the story of a middle class woman, Edna Pontellier, who lives in New Orleans.

She is married to a man she no longer loves and she looks for excitement and passion that they don’t have in their relationship. She falls in love with a young man, Robert Lebrun, but he goes to Mexico when he discovers that his feelings toward Edna are very strong. During their separation Edna becomes involved with another man even though she doesn’t love him. After Robert Lebrun comes back from Mexico, he meets Edna and admits to her that he loves her, but their happiness doesn’t last long.

Edna leaves to see her friend, Adele, and when she comes home, there is a note that is left by Robert Lebrun that says, “I love you. Good-by- because I love you. ” Edna decides to take a swim and she never returns. Edna, as the narrator in The Yellow Wallpaper, isn’t satisfied with her marriage which is based on dominant/ submissive relationship. Her husband, Mr. Pontellier, doesn’t treat Edna as human being , rather he treats her like one of his possessions paying just enough attention to make sure Edna is physically well and does everything that is expected from her.

Mr. Pontellier lives for his business, social respect, and a decent family. As soon as he sees Edna’s behavior changing, he seeks advice of a doctor. He is concerned about the fact that Edna “lets the housekeeping go to the dickens” and about her “some sort of notion in her head concerning the eternal rights of women. ” While Edna seeks romance as a source of happiness, she experiments with art, and as she awakens personally, she develops a deeper commitment to it.

Art plays a very important role in the life on the narrator in The Yellow Wallpaper too. For Kate Chopin and Charlotte Perkins Gilman, art is work because it is both difficult labor and “one’s true vocation”, the idea that wasn’t very common among nineteenth century women. Adele plays piano to enrich lives of her family and to beautify her home; she sees music a supplement to family life. Edna and the narrator in The Yellow Wallpaper were not able to succeed in art because of the limitations of family life.

Edna’s dependency disturbed her from her work, although she isn’t prohibited from doing what she likes, while the narrator in The Yellow Wallpaper is told to keep away from writing by her “loving” husband. Kate Chopin and Charlotte Perkins Gilman held different views on motherhood. The narrator of The Yellow Wallpaper doesn’t talk a lot about her baby, but every time she does, she speaks of her baby with love, “There’s one comfort, the baby is well and happy, and doesn’t have to occupy this nursery with this horrid wall-paper.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman sees motherhood to be essential for women’s lives. Edna, on the other hand, understands “that her role of a mother also makes impossible her continuing development as an autonomous individual. “(Dyer, 27) Edna fears motherhood, perhaps because this is the role she cannot change. The nineteenth century’s message of the importance of motherhood was so extremely strong and intense that it couldn’t be entirely opposed even by women like Edna who valued their independence more than family life.

Still, Edna refused to live for her children rather than for herself. Edna’s friend Adele is perfect in her role of mother, she is an example of “mother woman”. It isn’t a coincidence that last pages of the book’s final chapter are dominated with the issue of motherhood. When Edna parts from Robert to go to Adele when she gives birth, Edna still believes that she has control over her own destiny. But seeing Adele’s agony reminded her about her duties toward her children as their mother and she realizes that her dreams about her independence can never come true.

This realization that comes along with loosing the man she loves forces her to take her life because she understands that there is no way for a mother to be truly independent. The Robert’s note makes her understand not just that he is scared of having an affair in public, but that he would never be able to accept her urge for independence and equality. Female passion was thought to be immoral and unhealthy by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and other proponents of realism and feminism in the last decade of the nineteenth century.

The color yellow in The Yellow Wallpaper has been interpreted as the narrator’s “sexual repression, her sexual fear, her disgust of sexuality” (Knight, 13). According to Denise D. Knight in her A Study of the Short Fiction, in the original manuscript of The Yellow Wallpaper, there was a sentence that described this color as ” a sickly penetrating suggestive yellow, ” that points out the fear that narrator feels toward sexuality. (p. 12) Kate Chopin in The Awakening suggested that guilt shouldn’t accompany sex even if it isn’t sex in marriage.

She didn’t judge Edna as a fallen woman, moreover, it seems like Chopin’s view of sex was that sexual growth of a woman didn’t end with her marriage. To us, modern readers, sexual descriptions in The Awakening may seem hardly explicit, however, contemporary readers would have founds them inappropriate. However, Edna’s awakening to her own sexuality can bring only partial fulfillment because Edna comes to understanding that female biology can also enslave and she thus takes her life because she needs sexual and spiritual freedom, but acknowledges a duty toward her children.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman suggested that women in dependent relationships are always removed from their physical environment( Dyer, 55) Could it be that Edna and the narrator of The Yellow Wallpaper responded to the environment that surrounded them because they started doubting their own place in the dependent/ submissive relationship? Excessive physicality of Grand Isle are irresistible to Edna, and her sexuality awakens under the influence of nature, sea, Creole women and men, and her longing for love and passion. This environment sharpens Edna’s senses.

The sea becomes very important to Edna as she learns to appreciate it. At first, Edna was afraid of swimming not because of her physical limitations, but because of her fear of being alone in the water. Edna’s desire to swim alone in the sea without anyone standing near emphasizes her growth as an individual. She is no longer afraid of loneliness, she realized that she is not only part of domestic place, but part of the world. The Awakening is about the beginning of selfhood, and Edna’s return to the sea, ” the source of life” can ‘be interpreted as a beginning of self-understanding.

Edna’s victory is in her awakening to an independence, passion, and self-understanding, but she refuses to live without human status and be judged by her ability to be a dutiful mother. The narrator in The Yellow Wallpaper doubts her husband’s opinions and her own role in their relationship; being unable to write and communicate with her friends, she sees herself in the image of the woman in the wallpaper and identifies her thoughts and doubts with this image.

The narrator’s urge for independence is more unconscious than Edna’s , who fully understands expectations that her husband has of her and her own urges and desires. In the final scene when John faints and she creeps over him she says, ” I’ve got out at lastaAnd I’ve pulled off most of the paper, so you can’t put me back! ” She achieved her independence and doesn’t need anybody to rely on for survival. She achieved her independence from her submission to her husband, but this independence came at a terrible price- her sanity.

The uniqueness of The Awakening and The Yellow Wallpaper caused early reviewers to greet it with hostility. Thus the nation was not ready to wake up to the truth about feminine passion and independence. Kate Chopin and Charlotte Perkins Gilman saw no happy end to the woman’s urge for freedom. The narrator’s and Edna’s achievement of independence brings them despair rather than fulfillment and happiness. The Yellow Wallpaper and The Awakening are both about the beginnings; they begin a painful process of ” bridging two centuries, two worlds, two visions of gender. ” (Dyer,116)

A Look into the Life of Charlotte Perkins Gilman and The Yellow Wallpaper

The Yellow Wall-paper is an amazing story that demonstrates how close-minded the world was a little over a hundred years ago. In the late eighteen hundreds, women were seen as personal objects that are not capable of making a mark in the world. If a woman did prove to be a strong intellectual person and had a promising future, they were shut out from society. Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote her stories from experience, but added fictional twists along the way to make her stories interesting. Charlotte Perkins Gilman grew up in a broken home without the presence of her father.

Charlotte eventually moved away from her home with her mother and sister. Charlotte tried to keep in contact with her father, but he did not want any part of the contact. Being rejected by her father, and not receiving any affection from her cold-hearted mother set the tone for the way she would live her life. After one failed marriage with a child, Charlotte did not believe that there was much left for her. Charlotte took her emotions and construed them into a positive thing, her writing. Just like the woman in the story, The Yellow Wall-paper, Charlotte was sick.

The doctors prescribed the rest cure for Charlotte. This prescription meant that she had to stay in bed for weeks on end, and had to limit her intellectual activities (Gilman 831). Charlotte was also instructed to live as much of a domestic life as she could. The doctors and her husband wanted her to stay home to cook, clean, and tend to their child. Staying in your own house, in your own bed for that long of a time would drive any person the slightest bit of crazy. During this time is when Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote, The Yellow Wall-paper. The Yellow Wall-paper portrays realism in its finest.

Realism is defined as the representation in art or literature of objects, actions, or social conditions as they actually are, without idealization or presentation in abstract form (dictionary. com). It must have been easy for Charlotte to write this literary work. Not only did Charlotte have all the time in the world, but she was also a feminist (Hudak). When a person has enough time, and a just cause, wonderful literary works can happen. There is no better way to get emotions, ideas, and worries out into society than writing about what you believe in.

This story is almost an autobiographical account of Charlotte Perkins Gilmans life. Charlotte suffered from years of continuous nervous breakdowns and depression. Charlotte had to stay in her home all day every day (Suess). Being secluded from the outside world, and having nothing to do made the home feel like a prison. The similarities between the main character of, The Yellow Wall-paper and Charlotte Perkins Gilman are uncanny. There is a lot of room for analysis within this story. Almost every line of this story can be picked apart to find hidden, yet important meanings.

If a physician of high standing, and ones own husband, assures friends and relatives that there is really nothing the matter with one but temporary nervous depressiona slight hysterical tendencywhat is one to do? (Gilman 833). It seems that Gilman picked the occupation of a doctor for the womans husband and brother to make it seem like they were superior to not just her, but all women (Snyder). The men had the power to tell her what was right and what was wrong, despite of it being her own body.

While laying in her bed, the woman can not help but stare at the unsightly wallpaper that is all around her. One of those sprawling flamboyant patterns committing every artistic sin. It is dull enough to confuse the eye in following, pronounced enough to constantly irritate and provoke study, and when you follow the lame uncertain curves for a little distance they suddenly commit suicideplunge off at outrageous angles, destroy themselves in unheard contradictions. The color is repellent, almost revolting; a smoldering unclean yellow, strangely faded by the slow-turning sunlight (Gilman 834).

The particular color of yellow in the story, according to one of my art teachers represents inferiority, strangeness, cowardice, and ugliness. All of these adjectives can so easily be used in the story of The Yellow Wall-paper. Even though Charlotte Perkins Gilman did not suffer from hallucinations during her depression phases, she can relate to the character in the story very well. To save herself from staring at the unsightly walls, the woman writes down all of her thoughts in secret. We have been here two weeks, and I havent felt like writing before, since that first day (Gilman 834).

In a sense, both Charlotte Perkins Gilman and the main character of this particular story are writing down their thoughts into stories to stay sane; all the while they are staring into the face of insanity themselves. On a pattern like this, by daylight, there is a lack of sequence, a defiance of law, that is a constant irritant to a normal mind (Gilman 839). The main character seems to come alive with wonder and amusement when it is night time. The woman then fears the daylight, because she knows that insanity will take over once again.

The daylight most likely means that her life is back to the ordinary domestic routine and the mans order. Along with trying to make sense of the patterns on the walls of her bedroom, a horrid odor protrudes from those same walls. It used to disturb me at first. I thought seriously of burning the houseto reach that smell. But now I am used to it. The only thing I can think of that it is like is the color of the paper! A yellow smell (Gilman 841). The woman eventually got used to the smell, and it added to her sense of fear and confusion.

The more confused she got, the clearer her vision became with the patterns and the trapped woman on the inside of the bars. At the end of the story, is when the readers finally figure out the main characters name. Through out the whole story, the woman remained nameless. This makes it seem like it did not even matter if she had a name because she was just some crazy, helpless woman. I kept on creeping just the same, but I looked at him over my shoulder (Gilman 844). Ive got it out at last, said I, in spite of you and Jane! And Ive pulled off most of the paper, so you cant put me back!

Gilman 844). Jane is the woman that is suffering from all of these hallucinations. In a sense, Jane was the woman she saw trapped in the wall paper behind the bars, because inside her head was a chaotic prison. The same chaotic prison existed within Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Gilmans periods of insanity were full of unbelievable amounts of rest and sporadic thoughts. Both Jane and Charlotte Perkins Gilman, in a sense, were both feminists. Jane was a feminist in a subtle way. Jane was shocked when told by the doctors that all she needed was to rest and do domestic work when she could.

Not being able to express her inner feelings made her want to write everything down so much more. Jane then realized that she was being oppressed by the men in her life. Jane was not a strong woman, so she drove herself insane just to escape the reality that she was in. If the story of, The Yellow Wall-paper would have continued from its finishing point, I believe that Jane would have went even more mad and most likely would have killed herself to escape her own self-torture. Much like how Charlotte Perkins Gilman committed suicide in her own life.

The next year, suffering from breast cancer and convinced that her productive life was over, she committed suicide with chloroform she had long been accumulating (Gilman 832). Charlotte Perkins Gilman was a lonely, insane woman, but her creativity got her through some hard times. Writing The Yellow Wall-paper helped to created an outlet for Charlottes personal emotions. Charlotte and the main character of the story, Jane, are one and the same. After reading background information on Charlotte and reading The Yellow Wall-paper, its obvious that Charlotte was writing about what she knew; insanity.

The Effect of Major Symbolic Elements

Women in literature are often portrayed in a position that is dominated by men, especially in the nineteenth century, women were repressed and controlled by their husbands as well as other male influences. In The Yellow Wall-Paper, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, the narrator is oppressed and represents the major theme of the effect of oppression of women in society. This effect is created by the use of complex symbols such as the window, the house, and the wall-paper which all promote her oppression as well as her self expression.

One distinctive part of the house that symbolizes not only her potential but also her trapped feeling is the window. In literature, traditionally this would symbolize a prospect of possibilities, but now it becomes a view to a world she may not want to take part in. Through it she sees all that she could be and everything that she could have. But she says near the end, I dont like to look out of the windows even – there are so many of those creeping women, and they creep so fast.

She knows that she has to hide and lie low; that she would have to creep in order to be accepted in society and she does not want to see all the other women who have to do the same because she realizes they are a reflection of herself. She expresses how women have to move without being seen in society. The window does not represent a gateway for her. She can not enter what she can see outside of the window, literally, because John will not let her, (there are bars holding her in), but also because that world will not belong to her, she will be oppressed like all other women.

She will be controlled, and be forced to suffocate her self-expression. The only prospect of possibilities that this window shows are all negative. It shows a world in where she will be oppressed and forced to creep like all the other women. It is common to find the symbol of the house as representing a secure place for a woman’s transformation and her release of self expression. However, in this story, the house is not her own and she does not want to be in it. She declares that it is haunted, and that there is something queer about it.

Although she recognizes the beauty of the house and what surrounds it, she constantly goes back to her feeling that there is something strange about the house. Her impression is like a forewarning for the transformation that takes place within her while she is there. In this way the house still is the cocoon for her major change that will take place. The house does not take the form of the conventional symbol of security for day to day activities of a woman, but it does allow for and contain her transformation. The house also facilitates her release, accommodating her, her writing, and her thoughts.

These two activities evolve because of the fact that she is kept in the house. The house symbolizes her confinement, where she will be transformed and changed due to her near imprisonment in the house. Impacting her metamorphosis even more than the house itself, is the room she is in and the characteristics of that room. The most important characteristic being the yellow wall-paper, which also plays a double role: it has the ability to trap her in with its complexity of pattern that leads her to no satisfying end and bars that hold in and separate the woman in the wall-paper from her.

However, the wallpaper also sets her free. She describes the wall-paper as being repellent, revolting, a smoldering unclean yellow. She is stuck in this room and her only escape is the wall-paper. She is so confined, because her husband has taken such control over her activities, that she is forced to sit and watch this paper. She also says in her first reference to it that, I should hate it myself if I had to live in this room long. The patterns of the paper absorb her as she tries to follow them to an end.

This is the beginning of her transformation. She allows herself to be completely drawn in to her fantasies and not being afraid of what is happening to her. She tell her husband of what is occurring and how she sees a figure in the wallpaper. He tells her to resist them, but she does not. Her comprehension of the changes that are occurring and her efforts to cultivate them and see the changes through to an end, illustrate a bravery that is not often recognized in women.

After all of this she finally realizes that the image in the wall-paper is not another woman as she originally thought; but it is of herself as well as all women in general and hence the woman behind the wallpaper represent all the women trapped and oppressed by society. The story has significant meaning to it. The story candidly shows what society can do to women, or better, what society can to do any person or group that is oppressed. The effects on the mind pattern and thought process and their transformations are shown. The window, the house, and the wallpaper all complement this important lesson.

The window normally would represent the endless opportunities available in life. However, here it represented the view of a world full of injustices to women and a sort of imprisonment. It is absurd to call a place home unless it is the place in which their is security and shelter. But the home the narrator lives in represents the place where she will transform and express her self even though she is only there due to her confinement. All of these symbols show how she is oppressed and how this all affects her thought process and mind pattern.

The complex symbols used in The Yellow Wall-Paper create Gilman’s portrayal of the oppression of women in the nineteenth century. Gilmans twist on traditional symbols that usually provide a sense of security and safety adds to this woman’s own oppression and contribute to the trapped feeling. Gilman pushes this to the limit by taking those characteristics closely associated with women and uses them against the narrator, to assist in her oppression. These symbols all effect the theme and complement the meaning of the story, both which deal with the unjust oppression of women.

The Yellow Wallpaper, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Although on the surface The Yellow Wallpaper, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, is a story about one woman’s struggles with sanity it is not. In truth, it is a story about the dominant/submissive relationship between an oppressive husband and his submissive wife. The husband, John, pushes his wife’s depression to a point quite close to insanity. The narrator seems to destroy herself through her overactive imagination and her urge to write. When they arrive she seems well in control of her faculties, but by the time they are readying for departure, she has broken down.

Flawed human nature seems to play a great role in her breakdown. Her husband, a noted physician, is unwilling to admit that there may be a real problem with his wife. This same attitude is mirrored in her brother, also a physician. While these attitudes, and the actions taken by the two doctors, seem to have certainly contributed to her breakdown, it seems that there is an underlying rebellious spirit in her. The narrator, speaking out against her husband states, “He says no one but myself can help me out of it, that I must use my will and self-control and not let any silly fancies run away with me.

This demonstrates how John is not treating his wife for anything. He simply doesn’t believe there is a problem. This is one of her major motivations for keeping a journal; she thinks it helps her because she is afraid to speak out against her husband. Every time she thinks about writing in the journal, she relates how tired it makes her. Throughout the story, John speaks out against her writing, because he feels that it contributes to her depression but she writes anyway, feeling that she is getting away with something.

John treats her as if she were ill not depressed. John being a physician, not a psychologist, prescribes her medication that is for someone who is physically ill, not experiencing psychological distress. The journal becomes an outlet for her true feelings that she believes would get her incarcerated if anyone else heard them. When she writes she states, “I think sometimes that if I were only well enough to write a little it would relieve the press of ideas and rest me. But I find I get pretty tired when I try.

Her husband who believes that her writing is contributing to her illness opposes this idea while not radical. As the story progresses, we find that she has begun to fixate on her room, and most of all on the wallpaper. She finds the bed is nailed down, the windows have bars, and there are rings and things sticking out of the walls possibly from the days of this being a children’s’ playroom. She at first hates the room, but grows to like it, “I’m getting really fond of the room in spite of the wallpaper.

Perhaps because of the wallpaper” This is a contradiction, and possibly the first moment of her real mental breakdown. It seems at this point she is not dealing with reality anymore. She begins to see a woman in the wall, which can be interpreted as the projection of her self-image, a woman imprisoned by outside forces. It would seem at this point she is almost withdrawing from real life and entering a world of fantasy. Her husband does not see that her problem is with her imagination, and that she does not have a sense of reality.

This is perhaps brought on by a loss of a sense of her identity as a wife and mother. This seems to be exacerbated by her husband through his use of terms like “darling,” “little girl,” and “little goose. ” These terms and their resulting effects contributing to the image of a dominant husband causing the mental breakdown of his wife. The wallpaper seems to ultimately cause her total breakdown. It is described as “flamboyant patterns committing every artistic sin. ” As the time of her total lapse of sanity, she seemingly will go to any length to tear down the wallpaper.

To illustrate, she cannot reach to the ceiling except for by standing on the bed. She wants to move the bed so she can tear the wallpaper off the wall as far as much as possible. When she fails to move the bed she becomes extremely frustrated and bites off a small piece in one corner, hurting her teeth in the process. This demonstrates that she will go to any length to get to the wallpaper. At the same time as wanting to destroy the wallpaper she gets very protective, “no person touches this paper but menot alive.

Once she writes this journal entry, she has finally shown conclusive signs of insanity. In addition to the pattern, she also fixates on the color of her imprisoning wallpaper. This color soon becomes a fixture of her thinking, “I don’t want to go outside. I wont’, even if Jennie asks me too. For outside you have to creep on the ground, and everything is green instead of yellow. ” By embracing the color of the walls that subjectively imprison her, she has embraced the insanity gripping her.

The insanity that the narrator of The Yellow Wallpaper, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, descends into is a result of extreme depression. This depression is falsely diagnosed as simply a mental thing that can be totally controlled by the affected party. John, the husband of the narrator makes this diagnosis and prescribes a treatment that inadvertently drives the narrator to a mental breakdown and insanity. Although many of the restrictions on the narrator are simply in her mind, her husband’s behavior and treatments serve to exacerbate the problem instead of curing it as it is intended.

Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Gilman

Throughout history people have always seemed to follow what notions that were considered cool. Though I doubt that cool was the word used to describe these notions they were still there in some form or another. One of the greatest farces ever committed in the name of these popular perceptions was medicine. At that time, medicine that was on the cutting edge seem to have always involved some sort of noxious chemical or a typically atrocious diet. Not to mention the fact that ninety-nine percent of the doctors were men.

Womens notions were immediately discounted on the bases of the preconception that women ere not meant for such enlightened thoughts. No, men really knew what was best and women were meant to stand by what their husbands said. This brings one particular husband to mind and how he was responsible for his wife going completely and utterly insane. His name is John and he is the husband to a woman who was diagnosed with a temporary nervous depression, meaning a slight hysterical tendency. Through John’s interference he turned what was considered a minor case of a chemical imbalance into to full blown schizophrenia.

During the turn of the century, which is when this story took place, what scientists knew f the human mind wouldnt fill the inside of a matchbook. This was for certain the case when it was a woman who was the patient. If there was any deviation in the accepted behavior of a woman as deemed by society, the woman was considered hysterical. When dealing with these patients, instead of seriously considering the consequences of their actions, they went along with obscenely stupid notions on how to deal with problems of the mind.

The conventional course of action to take in the narrators case was the one of nothing. I mean literally, nothing. For the narrator was considered hysterical nd slightly depressed and there was only one course of action for such symptoms. That was one of complete rest. In those days the rest cure was very popular. It involved being set apart from anything that might have even the remotest possibility of stress in it. The main character of The Yellow Wallpaper was indeed set apart from all activity as directed by her husband.

John dutifully followed the set path, not questioning any of the accepted methods. He set his wife up in a large, old house for the summer, kept all company that was thought to be excitable away, and separated her from her child. All this was one under the idea that these things would lower the narrators nervousness. He even took away her writing. She quickly finishes one paragraph with: There comes John, and I must put this away– he hates to have me write a word. The narrator is troubled by this nonaction on her part.

A child of the times, she also follows the currently accepted rule that state she needs rest and that her state is not that serious. Though she believes it is only nervousness, she does feel that, It does weigh on one so not to do no duty in any way. However, she cannot bring herself to openly objecting to convention. In face of er solitude she has only one pastime, which is obsessing over the hideous wallpaper in her room. She describes it quite well when she says, The color is hideous enough, and unreliable enough, and infuriating enough, but the pattern is torturing.

You think you have mastered it, but just as you get well under way in following, it turns a back-somersault and there you are. It slaps you in the face, knocks you down, and tramples upon you. It is like a bad dream. The outside pattern is a florid arabesque, reminding one a fungus. If you can imagine a toadstool in joints an interminable string of toadstools, budding and prouting in endless convolutions-why, that is something like it. I would imagine that would not be considered an appropriate way to pass the time.

In fact it is probably the worst thing to be giving an unstable mind a teasingly, unstable object to focus upon. John does not give any thought to this, but, of course he is the doctor and he thinks he knows best. But then why doesn’t his cure work? The narrator seems to be getting worse, not better. Someone who had the slightest bit of common sense probably would have thought that this cure was not right in this case and try a different approach. John, however, thought therwise and kept with the rest cure, making her take, cod liver oil and lots of tonics and things, to say nothing of ale and wine and rare meat.

I suppose at the time nutrition was not thought of as highly important as it is today and therefore people lacked the lacked the knowledge of how meat should be properly cooked and while one glass of wine a day may be healthy, ale was certainly not a dietary need. In fact, just a room change might have been the right change to make in her life. She goes on about her room with, I dont like our room a bit. I wanted one downstairs that opened onto the piazza and had oses all over the window, and suck pretty old-fashioned chintz hangings!

But John would not hear of it. It seems that John was being a bit stuborn on the subject, probably just out of self-centeredness. He is not the one who spent most of their time in that room. Then again, he might not be doing this to the narrator out of stubbornness. He might simply not know what his wifes condition is. She tries hard to not show her suffering when he is there. Which isnt often. John seems to have neglected his wife a great deal. In the story, he comes across as always being absent on trips to see other patients.

He pparently truly thought that this rest cure was sufficient and that he did not need to spend time with his wife. But even if he is gone a lot, there is no excuse for missing the dire symptoms his wife was showing. She may have been trying to hide her misery, but he, her spouse, should still have been able to spot it. Unfortunately, her symptoms went unnoticed and untreated. At least properly, that is, unless you consider the rest cure to be appropriate. I find John in fault for this. He was her physician and her husband. Yet he didnt have enough sense to see how his wife was suffering.

Instead of treating his ife as his wife and not another patient, he would have noticed how wrong the conventional ideas were and done something that would actually help his wife. Everything he did was based on what other doctors thought. He did not try to go against what is, and always shall be, the most ludicrous way of treating the mentally ill. Because of his incompetence, he left his wife in a room with an obsession that proved to be too much. What was a treatable, mild case of mental disorder became complete insanity. All this was done at his hands and no amount of washing could ever cleanse them of his wrongdoing.

The importance of the wallpaper in “The Yellow Wallpaper”

“The Yellow Wallpaper”, Gilman makes direct or indirect reference to objects which play a symbolic role within the context of the story and elucidate its thematic fibre, a fibre which revolves around the main character and whose essence is integrated in her inner constitution. Thus, in order to come to terms with the story and draw certain conclusions based on this fibre, it is crucial to examine these objects and what they symbolise within this thematic fibre and obtain a better understanding of the main character.

The main object which forms the backdrop to this fibre and generates the thread of action is the wallpaper tself, a mirror image of the heroine Jane and her cohesive selves, an opaque medium into the subdivisions of her own mind. Jane, who is also the narrator of the story and its centre of consciousness, is recounting her domesticated and repressed way of life, as well as her husband’s treatment of her as a result of her postpartum depression.

What emerges, however, from Jane’s exposition, becomes a sinister paradox open to diverse interpretation, for what comes to the surface as a result of Jane’s constant obsession with the wallpaper is an unnerving sense that she is suffering not only from postpartum depression, but lso from multiple schizophrenia. Her own narration in effect becomes an egocentric psychoanalysis where the fibre of her identities can be divested and detached little by little by the reader, and constant references to the wallpaper allow for this process since it is the wallpaper itself which forms the fibre of Jane’s selves.

One such instance is when Jane claims that the wallpaper changes color by night: “By moonlight- the moon shines in all night when there is a moon- I wouldn’t know it was the same paper. ” Here, very clearly, we have a juxtaposition of two dissociated identities, with the hange in the color of the wallpaper stressing the shift in both identity and role. Jane’s delirium is set off by her constant shifting or playing off of self from one ego to the other.

At night a different self emerges and, since the wallpaper is nothing other than a projection of Jane’s selves, it becomes feasible that the wallpaper should also change aspect as one Jane is played off against the other. Furthermore, in several cases of the disease which Jane seems to show signs of, the patient loses sight of one personality as the other sets in. Hence it would be logical for Jane not to recognise the paper since it is a ide of her which becomes disconnected from her conscious mind as soon as the transformation has taken place. One of Freud’s theories in psychoanalysis is very explicit about this dissociation.

Freud, for instance, claims that systems of thought can be split off from each other and congeal into a secondary personality that is unconscious: “We have come upon something in the ego itself which is also unconscious, which behaves exactly like the repressed- that is, which produces powerful effects without itself being conscious and which requires special work before it can be made conscious. ” (Sigmund Freud’s The Ego and the Id, 1923, pgs. 8-9) In simple terms, repression in Freudian psychoanalysis is visualized as the split between the conscious and unconscious minds.

Separate and dissociated aspects of consciousness may exist, but they are in constant conflict. The subliminal tries to emerge on the surface. The wallpaper in The Yellow Wallpaper is ‘repression’; it incorporates two planes of consciousness within Jane’s own mind, two planes in battle. The repressed and unconscious self behind that wallpaper is struggling to come out, but it’requires special work before it can be made conscious, and this can be seen in he violent struggle which occurs at the transition phase: “I pulled and she shook.

I shook and she pulled, and before morning we had peeled off yards of that paper. ” Here the narrator’s words reveals more than an intensity of the obsessed mind. The use of words such as “shook” and “pulled” suggest the battle between the conscious and the unconscious, the power which thrusts the unconscious into being. The wallpaper again reflects two planes of consciousness, but as it is divested by the conscious side of Jane, the repressed and unconscious side can take the role of the conscious.

Also, the fact that” pulled” and “shook” switch roles in the struggle, with “I pulled” turning into “I shook” and the same evident shift with “she”- the secondary personality- shows the submergence of the selves, with the wallpaper as medium. ET Aul, who suffers from this disease commonly known as Multiple Personality Disorder, has written in her autobiography As You Desire Me: The Psychology of a Multiple Personality: “Those with dissociated identities, with “split” personalities, are locked into one or more roles, and their changes from role to role are dictated by their circumstances rather than their own choice.

The change may be completely out of their control and they may, or may not, be aware of it. ” Hence, Jane’s struggle, or transition, is beyond her control and she cannot be aware of it. “I wouldn’t know it was the same paper” proves this- she is not aware of the two planes of consciousness within her own mind anymore than she is aware of the conflict of the planes themselves. When her husband faints after her transition and her conspicuous outburst “I’ve got out… in spite of you and Jane.

And I’ve pulled off most of the paper, so you can’t put me back! ” she says obliviously “Now why should that man have ainted? ” To her, the Jane that has ‘got out at last’ and the Jane that has now merged into the wallpaper of her unconscious mind are two totally different identities. The unconscious has now become both conscious and real. However, the wallpaper itself is not only a projection of Jane’s conscious and unconscious. The field of interpretation can be taken to a much higher level when we speak of “split” personalities as stressed by ET Aul.

The wallpaper is, in fact, a mirror image of three identities, or “split” personalities, two of which are conscious and one which is unconscious at first. The former two, for the sake of argument, we shall identify as Jane 1 and 2, the latter as Jane 3. All of these sides are locked into Jane’s own mind. Jane 1 is the conscious and yet repressed writer recounting the incidents as they occur to her. A sense of freedom, the freedom to exercise the power of the will, is evident. However, Jane 1 says that “[she] must say what [she] feel[s] and think[s] in some way- it is such a relief! Note the necessity of having to write, which is stressed by the italicised ‘must. ‘

There is freedom to write, but there is no freedom of choice. Et Aul stresses how “their changes from role to role are dictated by their circumstances rather than their own choice. ” Consciously, Jane 1 is aware that her freedom is repressed. The Jane 2 in her, the woman behind the ‘bars’, the ‘subdued, quiet’ woman, is seeking a way out of her oppression. The circumstance of being oppressed forces the writer, Jane 1, onto the surface. However, Jane 2 did not ‘choose’ to be oppressed.

Jane 1 did not ‘choose’ to write. Both, on the other hand, want to be free. Unconsciously, Jane moulds a model of herself as free, a model which she ntegrates into reality, a model she incorporates into Jane 1 and 2. Jane 1 is free to write but her husband “hates to have [her] write a word. ” On the other hand, the model of Jane 2 is, on the surface, ‘free’. In her conscious mind, Jane 2 can break away from being a prisoner: “I see her in that long shaded lane, creeping up and down. I see her in those dark grape arbors, creeping all round the garden.

However, Jane 2 can ‘creep’, but her freedom is still oppressed. The garden is restrictive, it denotes boundaries. The house itself and its environs are like a prison that lock away freedom- for there are hedges and walls and gates that lock… ” As a result, Jane 1 and 2, which are two levels of consciousness, want to be free, mould models to give vent to that sense of freedom, but are ‘not’ as free as the unconscious side we have referred to as Jane 3, for Jane 3 is the perfect model that both sides wish to become.

Jane 3 is the side which is capable of absolutely anything, the side which is prepared even to kill to gain freedom- “But I am here, and no person touches this paper but Me- not alive! ” Note the portentous bearing of the italicised ‘alive’ and the capitalised ‘Me’ hich, when juxtaposed, indicate her majestic sense of power over others. Here, very clearly, we have the sense of a psychotic and determined mind, the mad Jane that will gain her freedom at all costs, no matter what the price- “I thought seriously of burning the house- to reach the smell… foreshadows very sinister implications.

Obviously it does ‘not’ show the workings of ‘a normal mind’. It shows the violent side of the Jane we have identified as Jane 3. She is the one that emerges in the end. She is the liberated self, a symbol of the submergence of the two other identities. The unconscious and repressed Jane 3 is now the conscious and very real embodiment of the other two sides, but with more powerful drive. The unconscious may “require special work before it can be made conscious”, but it ‘does’ become conscious.

After all that wallpaper is divested from the mind of consciousness and after Jane has managed to “peel off yards of that paper”, what seeps through onto the surface becomes both ominous and very disturbing, especially as ET Aul made no reference to the ‘number’ of “split” personalities; ‘all’ sides of Jane may be linked to the wallpaper- Jane 1, as writer, scribbles words that are like ‘the ame uncertain curves’ on the wallpaper, curves depicting suicide because on paper this is what she is portraying- at least metaphorically speaking, and the Jane 2, as prisoner, fancies a pattern of bars on the paper, while Jane 3 is triggered on by the ‘smell’- but the paper is representing traits from ‘three’, separate identities; does it not give one a very unnerving sense to read in the redounding and very meaningful words “Sometimes I think there are a great many women behind [the pattern of the wallpaper]” a much higher and a more diverse interpretation?

The Yellow Wallpaper – Journey into Insanity

In “The Yellow Wallpaper”, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, the dominant/submissive relationship between an oppressive husband and his submissive wife pushes her from depression into insanity. Flawed human nature seems to play a great role in her breakdown. Her husband, a noted physician, is unwilling to admit that there might really be something wrong with his wife. This same attitude is seen in her brother, who is also a physician. While this attitude, and the actions taken because of it, certainly contributed to her breakdown; it seems to me that there is a rebellious spirit in her.

Perhaps unconsciously she seems determined to prove them wrong. As the story begins, the woman — whose name we never learn — tells of her depression and how it is dismissed by her husband and brother. “You see, he does not believe I am sick! And what can one do? If a physician of high standing, and one’s own husband, assures friends and relatives that there is really nothing the matter with one but temporary nervous depression — a slight hysterical * * * * * Roberts 2 tendency — what is one to do? ” (Gilman 193).

These two men — both doctors — seem completely unable to admit that here might be more to her condition than than just stress and a slight nervous condition. Even when a summer in the country and weeks of bed-rest don’t help, her husband refuses to accept that she may have a real problem. Throughout the story there are examples of the dominant – submissive relationship. She is virtually imprisoned in her bedroom, supposedly to allow her to rest and recover her health. She is forbidden to work, “So I . . . am absolutely forbidden to “work” until I am well again. ” (Gilman 193).

She is not even supposed to write: “There comes John, and I ust put this away — he hates to have me write a word. ” (Gilman 194). She has no say in the location or decor of the room she is virtually imprisoned in: “I don’t like our room a bit. I wanted . . . But John would not hear of it. ” (Gilman 193).

She can’t have visitors: “It is so discouraging not to have any advice and companionship about my work. . . but he says he would as soon put fireworks in my pillow-case as to let me have those stimulating people about now. ” (Gilman 196). Probably in large part because of her oppression, she continues to decline. I don’t feel as if it was worthwhile o turn my hand over for anything. . . ” (Gilman 197).

It seems that her husband is oblivious to her declining conditon, since he never admits she has a real problem until * * * * * Roberts 3 the end of the story — at which time he fainted. John could have obtained council from someone less personally involved in her case, but the only help he seeks was for the house and baby. He obtains a nanny to watch over the children while he was away at work each day: “It is fortunate Mary is so good with the baby. ” (Gilman 195).

And he had his sister Jennie take care of the house. “She s a perfect and enthusiastic housekeeper. ” (Gilman 196). He does talk of taking her to an expert: “John says if I don’t pick up faster he shall send me to Weir Mitchell in the fall. ” But she took that as a threat since he was even more domineering than her husband and brother. Not only does he fail to get her help, but by keeping her virtually a prisoner in a room with nauseating wallpaper and very little to occupy her mind, let alone offer any kind of mental stimulation, he almost forces her to dwell on her problem.

Prison is supposed to be depressing, and she is pretty close to being a prisoner. Perhaps if she had been allowed to come and go and do as she pleased her depression might have lifted: “I think sometimes that if I were only well enough to write a little it would relieve the press of ideas and rest me. ” (Gilman 195). It seems that just being able to tell someone how she really felt would have eased her depression, but John won’t hear of it. The lack of an outlet caused the depression to worsen: “. . . I must say what I feel and * * * * * Roberts 4 think in some way — it is such a relief!

But the effort is getting to be greater than the relief. (Gilman 198). Meanwhile her reaction is to seek to prove him wrong. “John is a physician, and perhaps . . . perhaps that is one reason I do not get well faster. You see he does not believe I am sick! And what can one do? ” (Gilman 193). It seems to me that while putting on an appearance of submission she was frequently rebelling against her husband’s orders. She writes when there is nobody around to see her, she tries to move her bed, but always keeps an eye open for someone comming. This is obvious throughout the story.

It also seems to me that, probably because of his ppressive behaviour, she wants to drive her husband away. “John is away all day, and even some nights when his cases are serious. I am glad my case is not serious! ” (Gilman 195). As her breakdown approaches she actually locks him out of her room: “I have locked the door and thrown the key down into the front path. I don’t want to go out, and I don’t want to have anybody come in, till John comes. I want to astonish him. ” (Gilman 203). I see no reason for this other than to force him to see that he was wrong, and, since she knew he couldn’t tolerate hysteria, to drive him away.

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

For this assignment I chose to review The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. The yellow wallpaper was about a lady with what is said to be a temporary nervous condition and her husband traveling to the country for the summer and for the healing powers of being away from writing which seems to worsen her condition. The people in the story rent a house for three months and the main character in the story is tormented, she stares at this wallpaper for hours on end and thinks she sees a woman behind the paper.

I didn’t realize for a long time what the thing was that showed behind, that dim sub-pattern, but now I am quite sure it is a woman. ” She becomes obsessed with discovering what is behind that pattern and what it is doing. “I don’t want to leave now until I have found it out”. The plot of the story was boring, going from one thing to another just to have the woman lock herself in a room and pull all the wallpaper down at the end. The rising action would lead you to believe she completely went crazy there was one part where she explicitly says she wanted to burn the house down because of the smell from the wallpaper.

It sounds as if she is suffering from far more than a nervous depression when you hear things like that. There was one big thing thats repeated throughout the story and its the fact that she keeps saying no one wanted her to write because it is supposedly the cause or one of the reasons her ailment continues. The other characters in the story are distant from her like everyone is trying not to see the problem this woman is delusional, psychotic, maybe even completely insane.

There are hints of this all throughout the story, she doesnt go anywhere nobody wanted her to write. Im thinking there is more going on in the story, something between the lines maybe shes being abused and that is the real root of her illness. When you get to the root of the story its really about this woman being dominated by her husband. She is almost running scared of him she doesnt dare do anything around him, she doesnt mention it but I believe she would be disciplined in some way if she was to get out of line by defying him some way.

From the beginning of the story her husband and other influential men in her life direct her so that she will recover quickly and I believe this to be signs of her life being run by them. There is an angle that is not really thought of through this whole story why cant the woman just leave this man. He does nothing but leave her in the house to suffer from this so called illness, I think its all in her head and if she was allowed to go out and do something other than stay relaxed all day she would discover this.

The over all feeling of the story doesnt give an indication that he wanted her to stay all that bad, they seem to be a very affluent family with there being two doctors her brother and husband. I was relieved when getting to end, she finally lashed out and locked herself into the room that he left her in, all of a sudden hes concerned about what she doing he want to care, she ripped down all the wallpaper and released some of the stress.

I think here she gets a little control of her life back and this then threatens the husband. Overall this story was quite interesting the story is a complete cover-up of this woman being oppressed and influenced by her husband. I still cannot figure out why they had an issue with her writing unless there was a fear that she would have diary of how she was being treated and one day it would be discovered.

Yellow Wallpaper By Charlotte Gilman

In The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, the unnamed protagonist is suffering from postpartum depression, which is caused by the rapid changes in levels of hormones such as estrogen, progesterone and thyroid due to the birth of a child. This depression can be brought on by stress and isolation right after birth. In this short story the protagonist was brushed of by her husband John, who is a medical doctor as having a temporary nervous condition. In this situation, if the protagonist was effectively treated instead of being isolated, which allowed the depression to escalate to a severe form, he would have steadily gotten better.

Instead the protagonist began to develop postpartum psychosis, which is the most severe postpartum reaction. During this time woman will experience a break with reality which may include the experience of hallucinations and/or delusions. Other symptoms may include severe insomnia, agitation, and bizarre feelings and behavior (Depression After Delivery, Inc. 3). The Yellow Wallpaper takes place in the late eighteen hundreds when psychological disorders were dismissed as temporary nervous conditions, and unless there was something physically wrong with the person, the ndividual had to be isolated from any stimulating activities.

Isolation seemed to be the best antidote for psychological disorders in the late eighteen hundreds, although, it only made the disorder worse. John only worsens his wifes disorder by taking her away for the summer and placing her in an old house that is quite alone, standing well back from the road, quite three miles from the village (Barrett 193). John once again isolates his wife from any stimulating activities and forbids her to work… and am absolutely forbidden to work until I am well again (Barrett 192).

The protagonist ersonally disagrees with their ideas when she states, that congenial work, with excitement and change would do me good (Barrett 192). John did not allow her to write either, although, [she] did write for a while in spite of them (Barrett 193), but she did not dare let John or his sister Jennie catch her writing. One of the first symptoms of postpartum psychosis is the experience of hallucinations, which are sensory perceptual distortions, such as seeing, hearing, smelling, feeling or tasting sensations that others would not sense and do not exist outside of ones perception (Depression After Delivery, Inc. ) nd delusions, which are false fixed beliefs.

The protagonist begins to get hallucinations/delusions when she unwillingly accepts the upstairs nursery instead of the downstairs room that opened into a piazza and had roses all over the window. She illustrates this by saying, But John would not hear of it. He said there was only one window and not room for two beds, and no near room for him if he took another (Barrett 193). Once situated in the room she develops a fixation for the yellow wallpaper. The protagonist begins to follow the pattern about by the hour.

She starts at the bottom, down in the corner over here where it has not been touched, and I determine for the thousandth time that I will follow that pointless patter to some sort of conclusion (Barrett 197). Finally, from being in that room so long she begins the hallucinations. This is noticed when the protagonist points out that the front pattern does move-and no wonder! The woman behind shakes it! Sometimes I think there are a great many women behind, and sometimes only one, and she crawls around fast, and her crawling shakes it all over.

Then in the very bright spots she keeps still, and in the very shady spots she just takes hold of the bars and shakes them ard. And she is all the time trying to climb through. But nobody could climb through that pattern-it strangles so; I think that is why it has so many heads. Then the protagonist continues by saying, I think that woman gets out in the daytime! And Ill tell you why-privately-Ive seen her! (Barrett 202) As these hallucinations are going on the protagonist keeps these emotions bottled-up and doesnt allow anyone to be aware that she is having them.

Another symptom that the protagonist has is severe insomnia, which is difficulty in initiating or maintaining sleep. She shows her inability to sleep when she ays, he thought I was asleep first, but I wasnt, and lay there for hours trying to decide whether that front pattern and the back pattern really did move together or separately (Barrett 199). The protagonist consistently stays awake at night staring at the wallpaper pattern on the wall. John then sees the need for his wife to sleep more, so he makes her lie down an hour after each meal.

The protagonist feels this is a very bad habit when she says, It is a very bad habit, I am convinced, for you see, I dont sleep (Barrett 200). The protagonist doesnt sleep well at night either, due to her growing ixation with the wallpaper… I dont sleep much at night, for it is so interesting to watch developments (Barrett 200). The third symptom that the protagonist is suffering from is agitation, which are feelings that often excite or trouble ones mind. The protagonist seems to become angry with her husband John very often now, although, he has not done anything wrong to agitate his wife.

I get unreasonably angry with John sometimes. Im sure I never use to be so sensitive. I think it is due to this nervous condition. But John says if I feel so I shall neglect proper self-control; so I take pains to control yself-before him, at least, and that makes me very tired. (Barrett 193) The protagonist starts to become agitated with the yellow wallpaper as she continues to stare at the wall. I get positively angry with the impertinence of it and the everlastingness.

Up and down and sideways they crawl, and those absurd unblinking eyes are everywhere (Barrett 195). The protagonist also demonstrates bizarre (strikingly out of the ordinary) feelings and behavior. She illustrates this behavior by constant crying for no apparent reason. I cry at nothing, and cry most of the time (Barrett 196). The wallpaper seems to continuously dwell her mind, which is bizarre in itself, because no one should by obsessed over nonsense things like wallpaper. It dwells my mind so (Barrett 196)! The protagonist also starts to become unusually weak… alf the time now I am awfully lazy, and lie down ever so much (Barrett 197).

She continued to demonstrate her bizarre behavior when she said, this bed will not move! I tried to lift and push it until I was lame, and then I got so angry I bit off a little piece at one corner-but it hurt my teeth (Barrett 203). She even contemplates jumping out of the window… I am getting angry enough to do something desperate. To jump out of the window would be and admirable exercise, but the bars are too strong even to try (Barrett 204).

Towards the end of the story the protagonist reaches complete mental instability. At this point the protagonist has reached the worst part of her disorder. She presents this instability when she says, I wonder if they come out of the wallpaper as I did (Barrett 204). At this time she is confusing reality with her imagination. I suppose I shall have to get back behind the pattern when it comes night, and that is hard (Barrett 204)! The main reason of this statement isnt just her madness, but it is how she feels.

The protagonist feels that she can be herself during the day when John is not around, but at night she has to pretend to be a totally different person. At the end of the story John and Jennie become aware of what is going on with her. What is the matter? he cried. For Gods sake, what are you doing! I kept on creeping just the same, but I looked at him over my shoulder. Ive got out at last said I, In spite of you and Jane. And Ive pulled off most of the paper, so you cant put me back! No way should the man have fainted?

But he did, and right across my path by the wall so that I had to creep over him every time! (Barrrett 204) Throughout The Yellow Wallpaper, Gilman makes it evident that the protagonist is suffering from some type of postpartum reaction, that has been left untreated by her husband. She was able to vividly portray a womans descent into madness, due to her own fit with a similar disorder. Gilman wrote the story to effect change in the treatment of depressive women. She once stated It was not intended to drive people crazy, but to save people from being driven crazy (Barrett 185).

Symbolism and The Yellow Wallpaper

For starters, I would like to begin by saying that this piece of literature, to me, was a disturbing piece of fiction that reminded me of the book (and film) “The Shining” by Stephen King. Both story’s draw from the instability of the main characters mental state. This story in particular draws from the personal experiences of the author, Charlotte Perkins Gilman. It is the story of a woman’s downward spiral ending in insanity. Everything is viewed through the eyes of the mental patient. She describes her day to day life, paying much attention to the yellow wallpaper.

The wallpaper in it’s decrepid state was a symbol representing the characters instable psychological being. The story opens with a description of the manor at which the narrator and her husband, John, along with their baby, and the baby’s caretaker, John’s sister Mary, are staying. The narrator describes the large piece of architecture as a “colonial mansion”(p. 157) and being “quite alone”(p. 157) some “three miles from the village(p. 157). ” Requiring further proof, the manor containing these characteristics is portrayed as an evil place that is cold, empty, and secluded.

Continuing on with Gilman’s work, there is mention of bars on the window, and the narrator even comments, “there is something strange about this house–I can feel it. ” Though the house is meant to be a place of rehabilitation for our guide, from the beginning there are overwhelming descriptions of an erieness to the house. The narrator describes to us, the reason she is under care in this large abode. It appears as if her husband, a doctor, has diagnosed his wife, with a mental order resembling depression. His treatment for her; rest and relaxation in quiet peace.

For this, she is placed in a room upstairs with a bed bolted to the floor, and wallpaper which soon becomes the main topic of the story. What is further presented in great detail, is the wallpaper itself. It is constantly reffered to throughout the piece of literature. Obviously, this is what the story is about. The story basically follows the pattern of the narrator telling about the wallpaper, of which will be discussed momentarily, and the psychological state which she is in in relation to her environment.

Another object which recieves great attention in the story is of course, the yellow wallpaper. This object, throughout the literary piece, is a symbol which demonstrates the downfall of the human mind once exposed to a mental illness. The adjectives used to describe the wallpaper could equally as well be used to describe the mind of an unstable person. One sentence in particular which was used to describe the wall covering struck me as a dead on analogy.

It read, “It (wallpaper pattern) is dull enough to confuse the eye in following, pronounced enough to constantly irritate and provoke study, and when you follow the lame uncertain curves for a little distance they suddenly commit suicide(p. 158). ” In other instances, the wallpaper is given the feel of an object with disturbed human characteristics. The author notes that, “there is a recurrent spot where the pattern lolls like a broken neck and two bulbous eyes stare at you upside down (p. 158). ” She then goes on to say “…those unblinking eyes are everywhere (p. 8). ”

The author continuously uses traits common to mentally disturbed people to describe this decrepid covering on the wall. Further proof that the wallpaper is a representation of the disturbed human mind spiraling downward with hints of sanity can be found on page 159. Gilman comments that the wall paper has a sub-pattern of a different shade. She also uses words such as irritating, and mentions that these patterns can only be seen under certain light. This can be explained as her mental health at the present time in the story.

She still has the capacity to function civilized, but as the days go on, under certain circumstances, her mind is deteriorating and only can be used in it’s normal capacity under certain conditions. As with a mentally ill person, the author notes on page 161 she is becoming confused and is losing touch with reality when she claims that the wallpaper is no longer her enemy, but rather she is beginning to actually enjoy the wallpaper. In later thought, the author begins to describe the relevance of the wallpaper in relation to her own mental being.

She notes that there is a “strange, provoking, formless sort of figure, that seems to skulk about behind that silly and conspicuous front design (p. 161). ” Throughout the rest of the story, we are told of a woman who at night, hides behind the wallpaper trying ever so hardly to break herself free from its restraints. This woman escapes during the day and walks among the garden outside where the author is able to view her actions. This woman behind the wallpaper is very important in understanding our main character’s mental state. What the author is trying to tell us, is that she is the woman behind the wallpaper.

The wallpaper represents her mind. The patterns which at the beginning are fairly easy to describe, soon become patterns which slowly deteriorate and begin to loose meaning. Just like the main character’s mental state. The further she loses touch with reality, the more distorted and pandemonious the patterns of the wallpaper become. Until finally, she finds herself trapped by the wallpaper and all of it’s chaos. The woman represents the main character trying to escape the utter confusion which surrounds her, the wallpaper, in other words, her own mind.

Essay on “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Ruth Carol Berkin’s “Self-Images: Childhood and Adolescence” discusses how the effect of major symbolic elements of women in literature are often portrayed in a position that is dominated by men, especially in the nineteenth century, women were repressed and controlled by their husbands as well as other male influences. In “The Yellow Wall-Paper,” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Berkin believes the narrator is oppressed and represents the major theme of the effect of oppression of women in society.

Berkin relays how this effect is created by the use of complex symbols such as the window, the house, and the wall-paper which all promote her oppression as well as her self expression. One distinctive part of the house that symbolizes not only her potential but also her trapped feeling is the window. Berkin believes in traditional literature this would symbolize a prospect of possibilities, but now it becomes a view to a world she may not want to take part in.

The Story and Its Writer: An Introduction to Short Fiction by Ann Charters addresses how the character in “The Yellow Wallpaper” sees all that she could be and everything that she could have. But she says near the end, “I don’t like to look out of the windows even – there are so many of those creeping women, and they creep so fast. ” Charters writes that the character knows that she has to hide and lie low; that she would have to creep in order to be accepted in society and she does not want to see all the other women who have to do the same because she realizes they are a reflection of herself.

She expresses how women have to move without being seen in society. The window does not represent a gateway for the character. She can not enter what she can see outside of the window, literally, because John will not let her, (there are bars holding her in), but also because that world will not belong to her, she will be oppressed like all other women. She will be controlled, and be forced to suffocate her self-expression. The only prospect of possibilities that this window shows are all negative. It shows a world in where she will be oppressed and forced to creep like all the other women.

Critical Essays on Charlotte Perkins Gilman by Joanne b. Karpinski examines the theme that it is common to find the symbol of the house as representing a secure place for a woman’s transformation and her release of self expression. Karpinski makes note that in “The Yellow Wallpaper” the house is not her own and she does not want to be in it. She declares that it is “haunted,” and that “there is something queer about it. ” Although she recognizes the beauty of the house and what surrounds it, she constantly goes back to her feeling that “there is something strange about the house.

Her impression is like a forewarning for the transformation that takes place within her while she is there. In this way the house still is the cocoon for her major change that will take place. The house does not take the form of the conventional symbol of security for day to day activities of a woman, but it does allow for and contain her transformation. The house also facilitates her release, accommodating her, her writing, and her thoughts. These two activities evolve because of the fact that she is kept in the house. Ka….. inski looks at symbolizing the house as a place of confinement, where the character will be transformed and changed due to her near imprisonment in the house.

Ann J. Lane’s “The Fictional World of Charlotte Perkins Gilman” reflects “The Yellow Wallpaper” as a vehicle for the character’s metamorphosis through the house, the room she is in and the characteristics of that room. The most important characteristic being the yellow wall-paper, which also plays a double role: it has the ability to trap her in with its complexity of pattern that leads her to no satisfying end and bars that hold in and separate the woman in the wall-paper from her.

Lane describes the wallpaper as setting the character free. She describes the wall-paper as being repellent, revolting, a smoldering unclean yellow. The character is stuck in this room and her only escape is the wall-paper. The patterns of the paper absorb her as she tries to follow them to an end. This is the beginning of her transformation. She allows herself to be completely drawn in to her fantasies and not being afraid of what is happening to her. She tell her husband of what is occurring and how she sees a figure in the wallpaper.

He tells her to resist them, but she does not. Her comprehension of the changes that are occurring and her efforts to cultivate them and see the changes through to an end, illustrate a bravery that is not often recognized in women. Lane summarizes that after all of this she finally realizes that the image in the wall-paper is not another woman as she originally thought; but it is of herself as well as all women in general and hence the woman behind the wallpaper represent all the women trapped and oppressed by society.

To Herland and Beyond: The Life and Work of Charlotte Perkins Gilman, another work by Lane references that “The Yellow Wallpaper” has significant meaning to it. It discusses how the story candidly shows what society can do to women, or better, what society can to do any person or group that is oppressed. The effects on the mind pattern and thought process and their transformations are shown. The window, the house, and the wallpaper all complement this important lesson. The window normally would represent the endless opportunities available in life.

In this book by Lane, it represented the view of a world full of injustices to women and a sort of imprisonment. It is absurd to call a place “home” unless it is the place in which there is security and shelter. Lane feels the home the narrator lives in represents the place where she will transform and express her self even though she is only there due to her confinement. All of these symbols show how she is oppressed and how this all affects her thought process and mind pattern.

Lane demonstrates that the complex symbols used in “The Yellow Wall-Paper” create Gilman’s portrayal of the oppression of women in the nineteenth century. Gilman’s twist on traditional symbols that usually provide a sense of security and safety adds to this woman’s own oppression and contribute to the trapped feeling. Lane feels that Gilman pushes this to the limit by taking those characteristics closely associated with women and uses them against the narrator, to assist in her oppression. These symbols all effect the theme and complement the meaning of the story, both which deal with the unjust oppression of women.

Jane Eyre and The Yellow Wallpaper

In the two stories, Jane Eyre and The Yellow Wallpaper, the main characters are faced with various encounters with authority. Jane and the Narrator are the central characters that are faced with these authority figures, and an external as well as an internal relationship is developed with the figures that have power over them. These two women also display a unique use of authority to benefit themselves at various points in the stories. Jane and the Narrator are first alike in the way that they outwardly express their feelings about the situations they are in by the use of actions and words.

This open, verbal communication with these figures in their lives is a common trait between them, but what differs is that Jane’s communication is positive (she gets her feelings in the open and is understood) and the Narrator never gets listened to. The second similarity between Jane and the Narrator is the inner attitude that they feel about the figures of authority. This attitude is present in both characters as the reader sees their inner thoughts and feelings as well as the words and actions that take place when the authority figures are not around.

The last criterion that is common to both Jane and the Narrator is that each woman gains a power of authority near the end of their story. What differs between the two is how they go about possessing the authority, and how they use it when they finally have it. The end result is made up of similarities between the two women’s characteristics, but differences in the way that they use those characteristics in their lives. The novel Jane Eyre is about a young girl who goes through her life struggling with various life issues.

Jane encounters people that treat her with little respect, the feeling of being trapped in situations that she is not happy in, and learning how to grow up as a poor girl who has to make all of her own decisions without any help. A significant starting point in the novel Jane Eyre is at her arrival at Thornfield, and her meeting with Mr. Rochester. At that estate Jane is employed as the governess of a small child named Adele. At this point in Jane’s life, she is learning what it is like to be a paid subordinate under a master.

This proves to be a good learning experience for Jane, and as the character of Rochester goes on to shape her life as she stays there, Jane learns and grows along with her feelings. At first, the relationship between Jane and Rochester is professional, but as the two grow to learn more about each other and talk more, they find that their feelings have changed into love. At the time of the wedding proposal, Jane has gone through huge changes in her stance. She began as a paid subordinate just as the rest of the people living in the house were, but after the proposal, she was faced with the responsibilities of becoming a rich wife.

When the wedding day was upon them, Jane found out that she was a victim of Rochester’s deceit. She could not marry him because he was already married to a lunatic who he kept locked in the attic of Thornfield hall. Jane realized that she could not live with him any longer, and she set out to find a new way of life. As she did so, she realized that she could never forget Rochester and her love for him. Since Jane was financially secured by a large inheritance, and her independence was strong, she realized that she was capable of going back to him. When she finally found him, she saw a crippled man.

As the result of a fire that he was in, he lost his sight and part of his limb. This state of affairs was fortunate for their relationship, though, because Jane now felt that her love could be even stronger for him because their roles were able to be equal. This equality and love was strong enough between them to bond them together in marriage. This relationship ended up being positive, which was very unlike the Narrator and her husband in The yellow Wallpaper. In The Yellow Wallpaper, the main character is a mentally disturbed patient that has been moved to controlled living conditions by her husband John and his sister Jennie.

The residence that she is staying in is an old mansion that is very secluded, and she is taken care of by John, who is a doctor. The story is shown to the reader through a series of journal entries that she is not supposed to be writing because of her declining health. In her first entries, the author reflects her mood and how the setting that she is in is affecting her health. As the entries progress through time, the reader can see how disconnected the narrator is becoming from her ordinary thoughts that she previously recorded.

She begins an infatuation with the room that she is in, mainly with the paper that is on the walls. This eventually turns into a large drawn out episode, and the ides of discovering what is “inside” of the wallpaper is the only topic that she writes about. Not only does her writing style change along with her mental state, but so does her outlook on the people that are there to help her. The narrator becomes more secretive and mistrusting of the authoritative figures in her life, and believes that they will try to stop her from discovering what the truth is about the wallpaper.

She sneaks around to carry out her plan to get at what is in the paper, and ends up taking over the room with her own force. The end result is her mental breakdown, and the astonishment of the people around her. Both Jane and the Narrator have male figures in their lives, to whom they are very close, but who also serve as authority figures toward them. During their stay with these men, Jane and the Narrator outwardly and openly discuss their relationships with them. The first interaction that Jane has with Mr. Rochester, and their next few meetings after that one are mainly on a dutiful level more than a personal level.

Rochester exposes his authoritative side to Jane, and did so by asking questions about her life and where she has been. Jane reacts very professionally toward him, and gives him the answers that he desires, being very careful to only tell him as little as possible, and only what she believes that he wants to hear. This is very similar to the relationship that the Narrator and John have with each other. In her first entries the Narrator tells the reader that because John is her loving husband as well as her doctor, she does what he tells her to do, and takes her medicine and rests as he has prescribed.

In the beginning of her entries, she is very thoughtful about what he is dong for her, and always agrees that he knows what is best for her. Through the rest of the two stories, the relationships begin to change. The women begin to take a very different approach with the authoritative figures in their lives, and become increasingly different. Jane is able to communicate openly and honestly with Rochester, but that is not true for the Narrator. She feels that John does not understand her at all, and must simply abide by his wishes so that he’ll leave her alone.

Jane begins to grow more comfortable talking with Rochester, and eventually admits to herself that her feelings for him have grown deeper and more serious. She is able to openly express these feelings for him when he too reveals that he shares the same loving feelings for her. Although Jane still feels tied down by Rochester’s financial stability over her, Jane sees him as more of an equal on their personal terms. She shares more of her intimate feelings and thoughts with him and is less afraid to tell him what she wants. This is the total opposite type of communication that the Narrator and her husband share.

As the Narrator progresses through her illness, she realizes that she wants to talk to John about how this way of life and the house are affecting her. As she tells him, numerous times in the story, he never fully listens, and usually advises her to challenge her fears and become a stronger person by conquering them. As the entries in her journal progress, the reader sees that the result is not a growing relationship like Jane and Rochester’s, but instead turns into a deterioration of the Narrator and John’s relationship, and a deterioration of the Narrators mind, all due to the environment that John is keeping her in.

Jane and the Narrator also convey to the reader their innermost thoughts and feelings about the authoritative men in their lives. This personal attitude can be very revealing at times and lead the reader to conclusions about the characters personality type, and also what may result in the end due to the carrying out of their secret thoughts. Jane first begins to reflect upon Rochester’s character after their first discussion together.

Mainly, Jane developed a curiosity about Rochester’s character, but did not let that get in the way of her professional relationship with him. Slowly, as the two became more acquainted with each other, Jane began to think about being a part of Mr. Rochester’s life. This leads her to realize her love for him, but does not help her to accept it. She denies that it would ever be possible to love the man that has authority over her. The Narrator of The Yellow Wallpaper has formed a very different attitude toward her husband that Jane’s attitude is toward Rochester.

The Narrator becomes more angry and upset with her husband because he will not listen to her concerns, and she even begins to suspect that he will become a threat to her plan to find out the answer to what is in the wallpaper in her room. This is a large turning point for both women’s relationships with the authoritative men in their lives. Two different mental attitudes arise from these women towards the men in their lives. Emotionally Jane and the Narrator have become opposites.

As Jane’s love grows inside of her for Rochester, the Narrator becomes happy when John is not around to watch over her, and look at her in odd ways. At this point, the Narrator becomes very involved in her scheme, and only views John as an obstacle to get out of the way so that she will be able to carry out her ideas successfully. By the end of each story, the two main characters have acquired some form of authority over the men. It is to both of their benefits to make use of this new power, but how each woman does so is drastically different.

While Jane is away from Rochester, she inherits a large sum of money, which has left her financially secure, and she now has the capability to be independent and on her own. It is a this time that Jane decides that she wants to seek out Rochester, and in doing so she finds that because of her financially improved situation and his handicap, she and Rochester can live a happy life together. This is a type of authority that Jane uses over herself. Before she was insecure about having someone provide for her, but now Jane can rely on her own funds, as well as care for Rochester’s needs as a cripple.

Now because Jane has this authority over herself and Rochester, she is content to stay in the life that she has chosen with him. As a reader, we see that Jane has used her authority to better herself and the others around her, and has gone about it in a positive fashion. Although the Narrator also exerts authority over her husband John, and although it is used to better herself, she uses that power in a negative way towards others. The Narrator tells the reader that as she writes in her journal, she must be secretive because it would be going against John’s wishes.

This use of her own authority is negative because it would be seen as harming her personal self-interest. Again she displays negative use of authority when she sneaks around to fulfill her need to discover more about the wallpaper. The very last and most crucial episode of her authority is at the end of the story, when the Narrator locks her bedroom door to carry out the remainder of her mystery. As she goes drastically astray from reality, and rips apart her room, it shows the reader the exact situation that her husband was trying to prevent.

It even leads him to fainting because he can not believe what she has done. Her use of authority was therefore negative because John would have said that if she had listened to him, then she would have fully recovered instead of fallen in the opposite direction. As both Jane and the narrator’s characters have been exposed through their interactions and thoughts about authority, we see some striking similarities as well as many differences. It is easy to compare the steps that each character has encountered with the men in their lives.

Both Jane and the Narrator had dominant authoritative men in their lives, whom they talked to openly about their feelings, thoughts and ideas. Both also had inner psychological thoughts about their attitude towards these men. Last, both women reversed the role of authority to themselves, and used it to better some aspect of their lives. The contrast between these two women lies in how they carried out their relationships and express their attitudes towards these men. In Jane’s life, Rochester and herself grew closer to each other as a result of their communication, and how equal the roles between them have become.

In contrast to the Narrator’s life, she was faced wit the challenge of ridding herself of the one thing that was blocking her form her main goal, and that was her husband. The communication was never equal between these two characters, and therefore their roles never balanced out. The Narrator succeeded in her plan only to become even more deeply absorbed in her own state of mental affairs, which distanced her from the world and John. This lead to the conclusion that communication in a relationship proved to be a successful tool when two people are trying to attain the same goal.

Jane showed the positive side, that if authoritative figures listen and respond to those under them, things can become more equal, and possibly become closer together as people. The Narrator showed the negative side, that if communication is not achieved, then the best interest and even the health of the people involved can become jeopardized, and the result will be two separate people with conflicting views. Overall, these two characters dramatized what to do and what not to do when trying to uncover the mysteries of life: the human mind and love.

The story of The Yellow Wallpaper

The story of The Yellow Wallpaper reflects the period where men have dominated over women. The real meaning of this story is written hidden behind it. The author had used a writing style that is taking objects portraying men, women, and society. The story first starts off a couple have moved to a house. A so-called haunted house, her wife describes it. The wife, who is a patient of her husband, has moved here to cure her sickness. She does not admit that she has a problem. Everyday she keeps looking at the tore yellow wallpaper.

She finds it really interesting observing it. She likes writing personally. And so she writes about the yellow wallpaper. Everyday she would find something new to write about. The wallpaper really represents the society. Those bars, which she sees in front of the wallpaper, represent freedom. It is the boundary that woman wants to break open of. Women image behind the bars, tries to escaped from the control of men will eventually be twisted up. The lights that shined through the window present the dominant of men.

The wife observes that patterns of the parts where lights shine right at it is the non-active parts. It symbolizes women are more settle when men are watching over them. Under their pressure, they don’t dare to rebel against them. Her wife sees images moving around on the dark side. That brings up a big contradicting point comparing this to our present society. Back then, woman does not have much freedom. They are under man’s hands. Secretly they tired to struggle through this strangle. But they failed after all.

My favorite passage of this story is on page 163. The detailed description that the wife describes really draws much attention to me. It talks about some details that the wife finds looking at the wallpaper. And one interesting point, that she sees John and Jennie put their eyes on the wallpaper too. That she was surprise John and Jennie may see there is something going on about the wallpaper. But I don’t know if that is what the wife is determines or have a guess that’s what they are doing also.

Last sentence of the passage: “But I Know she was studying that pattern, and I am determined that nobody shall find it out but myself! ” She was very into examining the wallpaper, she is full of confidant that she shall be the one finding out what’s behind the wallpaper. It is quite freaky to hear that from her. Because she is a patient, and now here she is describing all that of the wallpaper and convinces that everybody in the house finds the wallpaper really have something going on. At the end of the story, his husband surprisingly fainted. He was too frowning to see her wife being crazy like this.

Crawling around the floor, saying to her husband that she is helping woman to get away from the wall. Now that brings out a point in the story. She said “And I’ve pulled off most of the paper, so you can’t put me back! ” She thinks she doesn’t need anybody to help her. That she can break through that boundary over man or just anybody that she needs to rely on. Despite the fact that she does not even know she has a problem. But the main passage that the author wants us to know is what I’ve described above. That woman, in that period, is under man’s hands.

The main character of The Yellow Wallpaper

Throughout history people have always seemed to follow what notions that were considered “cool”. Though I doubt that “cool” was the word used to describe these notions they were still there in some form or another. One of the greatest farces ever committed in the name of these popular perceptions was medicine. At that time, medicine that was on the cutting edge seem to have always involved some sort of noxious chemical or a typically atrocious diet. Not to mention the fact that ninety-nine percent of the doctors were men.

Women’s notions were immediately discounted on the bases of the preconception that women were not meant for such enlightened thoughts. No, men really knew what was best and women were meant to stand by what their husbands’ said. This brings one particular husband to mind and how he was responsible for his wife going completely and utterly insane. His name is John and he is the husband to a woman who was diagnosed with a temporary nervous depression, meaning a slight hysterical tendency. Through John’s interference he turned what was considered a minor case of a chemical imbalance into to full blown schizophrenia.

During the turn of the century, which is when this story took place, what scientists knew of the human mind wouldn’t fill the inside of a matchbook. This was for certain the case when it was a woman who was the patient. If there was any deviation in the accepted behavior of a woman as deemed by society, the woman was considered hysterical. When dealing with these patients, instead of seriously considering the consequences of their actions, they went along with obscenely stupid notions on how to deal with problems of the mind.

The conventional course of action to take in the narrator’s case was the one of nothing. I mean literally, nothing. For the narrator was considered hysterical and slightly depressed and there was only one course of action for such symptoms. That was one of complete rest. In those days the rest cure was very popular. It involved being set apart from anything that might have even the remotest possibility of stress in it. The main character of The Yellow Wallpaper was indeed set apart from all activity as directed by her husband.

John dutifully followed the set path, not questioning any of the accepted methods. He set his wife up in a large, old house for the summer, kept all company that was thought to be excitable away, and separated her from her child. All this was done under the idea that these things would lower the narrators nervousness. He even took away her writing. She quickly finishes one paragraph with: “There comes John, and I must put this away– he hates to have me write a word. ” The narrator is troubled by this nonaction on her part.

A child of the times, she also follows the currently accepted rule that state she needs rest and that her state is not that serious. Though she believes “it is only nervousness,” she does feel that, “It does weigh on one so not to do no duty in any way. ” However, she cannot bring herself to openly objecting to convention. In face of her solitude she has only one pastime, which is obsessing over the hideous wallpaper in her room. She describes it quite well when she says, “The color is hideous enough, and unreliable enough, and infuriating enough, but the pattern is torturing.

You think you have mastered it, but just as you get well under way in following, it turns a back-somersault and there you are. It slaps you in the face, knocks you down, and tramples upon you. It is like a bad dream. The outside pattern is a florid arabesque, reminding one a fungus. If you can imagine a toadstool in joints an interminable string of toadstools, budding and sprouting in endless convolutions-why, that is something like it. ” I would imagine that would not be considered an appropriate way to pass the time.

In fact it is probably the worst thing to be giving an unstable mind a teasingly, unstable object to focus upon. John does not give any thought to this, but, of course he is the doctor and he thinks he knows best. But then why doesn’t his cure work? The narrator seems to be getting worse, not better. Someone who had the slightest bit of common sense probably would have thought that this cure was not right in this case and try a different approach. John, however, thought otherwise and kept with the rest cure, making her take, “cod liver oil and lots of tonics and things, to say nothing of ale and wine and rare meat.

I suppose at the time nutrition was not thought of as highly important as it is today and therefore people lacked the lacked the knowledge of how meat should be properly cooked and while one glass of wine a day may be healthy, ale was certainly not a dietary need. In fact, just a room change might have been the right change to make in her life. She goes on about her room with, “I don’t like our room a bit. I wanted one downstairs that opened onto the piazza and had roses all over the window, and suck pretty old-fashioned chintz hangings!

But John would not hear of it. ” It seems that John was being a bit stuborn on the subject, probably just out of self-centeredness. He is not the one who spent most of their time in that room. Then again, he might not be doing this to the narrator out of stubbornness. He might simply not know what his wife’s condition is. She tries hard to not show her suffering when he is there. Which isn’t often. John seems to have neglected his wife a great deal. In the story, he comes across as always being absent on trips to see other patients.

He apparently truly thought that this rest cure was sufficient and that he did not need to spend time with his wife. But even if he is gone a lot, there is no excuse for missing the dire symptoms his wife was showing. She may have been trying to hide her misery, but he, her spouse, should still have been able to spot it. Unfortunately, her symptoms went unnoticed and untreated. At least properly, that is, unless you consider the rest cure to be appropriate. I find John in fault for this. He was her physician and her husband. Yet he didn’t have enough sense to see how his wife was suffering.

Instead of treating his wife as his wife and not another patient, he would have noticed how wrong the conventional ideas were and done something that would actually help his wife. Everything he did was based on what other doctors thought. He did not try to go against what is, and always shall be, the most ludicrous way of treating the mentally ill. Because of his incompetence, he left his wife in a room with an obsession that proved to be too much. What was a treatable, mild case of mental disorder became complete insanity. All this was done at his hands and no amount of washing could ever cleanse them of his wrongdoing.

“The Yellow Wallpaper” Report

If there is one story that we have read so far that has had a tremendous impact on me, “The Yellow Wallpaper” is definitely it. I read the story in high school, however I really didn’t remember too much about it. I saw the story as one woman’s journey into madness however; I also saw it as more than madness. It made me very upset when not only her husband but also her brother, both physicians, shrugged her “sickness” for lack of a better word off as nothing because it was something they could not understand.

I think a lot of this has to do with the fact that they are indeed men. I also think that part of her “madness” is due to the fact that she is kept in a room in which she detests the yellow wallpaper. In a way, I guess I see it as an almost claustrophobia. I used to suffer from claustrophobia and the one thing I noticed to be similar is that it is terribly easy to pick one part of the room and obsess about it. The yellow wallpaper was a symbol of her entrapment.

However it is not only he physical entrapment but also a mental entrapment, she has an unbelieving husband (according to her) and she recently gave birth and she must be feeling some of the emotional strings connected to such an event. She must be feeling extremely overwhelmed and used. She feels as though her husband is not truly there for her, he constantly belittles her by calling her “little girl” and the like and he does not pay any attention to her ailments.

He keeps telling her that she’ll be fine as long as she eats right, and gets plenty of rest and exercise, however he lacks the ability to understand that her problem are not physical. The end of the story confused me totally. I really didn’t understand where she was going with the woman creeping around in the room. I totally didn’t understand what was going on when she became the woman that was creeping. Was that her final decent into her madness or was it related to something else?

The Yellow Wallpaper: Male Opression of Women in Society

Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper is a commentary on the male oppression of women in a patriarchal society. However, the story itself presents an interesting look at one woman’s struggle to deal with both physical and mental confinement.

This theme is particularly thought-provoking when read in today’s context where individual freedom is one of our most cherished rights. This analysis will focus on two primary issues: 1) the many vivid images Gilman uses to illustrate the physical and symbolic confinement the narrator endures during her illness; and 2) the overall effect of, and her reaction to, this onfinement.

The Yellow Wallpaper begins with the narrator’s description of the physically confining elements surrounding her. The story is cast in an isolated hereditary estate, set back from the road and located three miles from town. The property boasts protective hedges that surround the garden, walls that surround the estate, and locked gates which guarantee seclusion. Even the connecting garden represents confinement, with box-bordered paths and grape- covered arbors. This isolation motif continues within the mansion itself.

Although she preferred the downstairs room with roses all over the windows that pened on the piazza, the narrator finds herself relegated to an out of the way dungeon-like nursery on the second floor, appropriately equipped with “rings and things” in the walls. Windows in each direction provide glimpses of the garden, arbors, bushes, and trees. The bay is visible, as is a private wharf that adjoins the estate. These views reinforce isolationism; they can be seen from the room, but not touched or experienced. There is a gate at the head of the stairs, presumably to keep the children contained in their play area.

Additionally, the bed is immovable as it has been nailed to the floor. It is here that the narrator secretly describes her slow decent into madness. Although the physical confinement drains the narrator’s strength and will, the mental and emotional confinement symbolized in the story play an important role in her ultimate fall into dementia. By being forced to be her own company, she is confined within her mind. Likewise, part of the narrator’s mental confinement stems from her recognition of her physical confinement. The depression the narrator has experienced associated with child bearing is mentally confining as well.

Specifically, she cannot control her emotions or anage her guilt over her inability to care for her child. These structures of confinement contribute to the rapid degeneration of her faculties. As the wife of a prominent physician in the late nineteenth century, the narrator’s assumption of the typical female role illustrates one aspect of the symbolic confinement present within both the story and the society. She is subservient and deferential to her husband John who enjoys the power traditionally associated with his sex and additional authority afforded him by his status as a doctor.

Jean Kennard notes, “By keeping her underemployed and solated, John effectively ensures his wife’s dependence on him” (81). John’s control over his wife is typical of the control most men had over women in the late nineteenth century. He decides everything on her behalf, including what room she will stay in and who she will be allowed to see. He diagnoses her postpartum depression as a “temporary nervous depression–a slight hysterical tendency” and in doing so, diminishes her complaints and demeans her individuality.

His prescribed treatment is worse than the disease; every hour is scheduled, she is forbidden to write, told what to think, and prohibited from cting as mother to her child. John’s behavior illustrates his covert efforts to control his wife as well. He looks to the narrator’s brother, who is also a physician, to validate his diagnosis and prescribed cure, making it even more difficult for the narrator to challenge the prescription herself. He repeatedly diminishes her by laughing at her and not taking her grievances seriously. The narrator complains “John does not know how much I really suffer.

He knows there is no reason to suffer, and that satisfies him. ” John’s contempt for his wife’s ideas is blatant; he refers to her as a “little girl,” and when she requests that she be oved to a different room downstairs, he “took [her] in his arms and called [her] a blessed little goose, and said he would go down to the cellar, if [she] wished, and have it whitewashed into the bargain. ” That he is only willing to move her into the basement, instead of allowing her a room of her choice, epitomizes his domineering personality.

As the woman descends into madness, she notices that the pattern in the wallpaper “becomes bars” in the moonlight and that “the woman behind it is as plain as can be. ” Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar assert that the woman behind the wallpaper is the narrator’s doppelg nger (10). This woman is symbolic of the narrator’s own confinement by the patriarchal society she lives in.

Moreover, we see that the wallpaper is a metaphor of her fractured mental state. She describes the chaotic pattern that will follow “. . . the lame uncertain curves for a little distance. . . uddenly committing suicide–plunging off at outrageous angles, destroying themselves in unheard of contradictions,” alluding to her own, and society’s, eventual destruction in the absence of enlightened change. Furthermore, the narrator acknowledges that she is representative of most women of her time with the statement “I think there are a great many women behind the paper]. ”

The effect of John’s oppression on the narrator is severe. At the climax of her insanity she writes that she can see the woman from behind the wallpaper pattern “out of every one of my windows! The narrator continues: It is the same woman, I know, for she is always creeping, and most women do not creep by daylight. I see her on that long road under the trees, creeping along, and when a carriage comes she hides under the blackberry vines.

I don’t blame her a bit. It must be very humiliating to be caught creeping by daylight! That evening the narrator noticed the woman in the pattern begin to crawl and hake the wallpaper in an effort to break free from it, just as she would like to break free from the confines and restrictions imposed on her by society and her husband John.

In her diary she describes helping the woman tear down the paper: “I pulled and she shook, I shook and she pulled . . . .” Most of the paper was removed the next day while the narrator watched many women creeping around in the street. At the end of the story the narrator has surprised John, who has come home from work to find her creeping around the room. She proclaims “I’ve got out at last, in spite of you and Jane. And I’ve pulled off most of he paper, so you can’t put me back! Although the reader might pity the narrator’s inability to challenge John’s authority, one must view the events of the story within the context of the 1860’s.

At this time, socitey would not tolerate such assertiveness from women. Moreover, the tragic story ends with a paradox. By definition, one who is mentally ill is not healthy. However, the narrator finds freedom, and apparently health, by rejecting an insane society and loosing her identity to the wallpaper. In contrast, the reader concludes the narrator is now confined by her insanity, and cannot be free.

Who Is Crazier

I picked two short stories that I would like to compare and contrast in this essay. The first story is called “The Yellow WallPaper” and was written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. The second story I chose is called “A Rose for Emily” and was written by William Faulkner. Both of these stories are about women who have serious mental problems. These stories are similar in that aspect, but there are also some differences. In this essay, I will compare and contrast these two short stories and determine which one best illustrates insanity.

The first thing that I noticed about these stories was that they were purely fictional. I also noticed that they both had a weird twist. “A Rose for Emily” is about a woman who kills her lover and hides him in her home: The man himself lay in the bed. For a long while we just stood there, looking down at the profound and fleshless grin. The body had apparently once lain in the attitude of an embrace, but now the long sleep that outlast love, that conquers even the grimace of love, had cuckolded him. In “The Yellow Wall-Paper” the woman starts out normal and gradually sinks into depression.

Her depression gets so bad that she begins to see objects in her wall paper: We have been here two weeks, and I haven’t felt like writing before, since that first day. I am sitting by the window now, up in this atrocious nursery, and there is nothing to hinder my writing as much as I please, save lack of strength. I don’t feel as if it was worth while to turn my hand over for anything, and I’m getting dreadfully fretful and querulous. I cry at nothing, and cry most of the time. Of course I don’t when John is here, or anybody else, but when I am alone.

At night in any kind of light, in twilight, candlelight, lamplight, and worst of all by moonlight, it becomes bars! The outside pattern, I mean, and the woman behind it is as plain as can be. I didn’t realize for a long time what the thing was that showed behind, that dim sub-pattern, but now I am quite sure it is a woman. The weird twist in these stories not only captures your attention, but also makes the stories memorable. Although both stories are fictional, Charlotte Perkins Gilman did battle with depression in her own life on more than one occasion.

Ms. Gilman was treated for depression with what is called the “rest cure. ” This basically meant that you lived as much of a domestic and stress free life as possible. You were limited to two hours of intellectual stimulation per day. She was told by her doctors that she would never be allowed to write again. She listened to the doctors advice for three months, but during that time she became worse. She said, ” I came so near the border line of utter mental ruin that I could see over. ” She knew what would really help her and it was not what the doctor advised.

Gilman obtained her normal life again and eventually got well. In her story “The Yellow Wall-Paper” her character is also a writer and treated with the ” rest cure. ” Gilman wrote the story as a celebration of her own recovery and in many ways the story reflected her own experiences. The Author of “A Rose for Emily” had no personal experience with the sickness he wrote about. The author had not experienced what Emily went through, which made it hard for him to explain the story with the same amount of detail as Charlotte Gilman. This made it hard for him to be as personal in his writing:

Then we noticed that in the second pillow was the indentation of a head. One of us lifted something from it, and leaning forward, that faint and invisible dust dry and acrid in the nostrils, we saw a long strand of iron-gray hair. Another difference that I noticed between these stories was that they were written from different points of view. “The Yellow Wall-Paper” was written in first person: I think that woman gets out in the day time! And I’ll tell you why-privately-I’ve seen her! I can see her out of every one of my windows! ”

The main character was the one telling the story, which gives you a good idea of what the character was felling and thinking. “A Rose for Emily” was written in third person: When Miss Emily Grierson died, our whole town went to her funeral: the men through a sort of respectful affection for a fallen monument, the woman mostly out of curiosity to see the inside of her house, which no one save an old manservant-a combined gardener and cook-had seen in at least ten years. Because ” A Rose for Emily” was written in the third person it allowed no access to what the haracters emotions or motivations were.

I have decided that “The Yellow Wall-Paper” described insanity the best. Gilman had not only experienced most of what she wrote about, but also wrote her story in the first person, which allows the reader to feel exactly what the character is going through. Since “A Rose for Emily” is written in the third person, you have no access to what Emily is going through. You only get to see her breakdown through others’ eyes, which are not always accurate. It is still a great story, but it just does not give you as much detail.

Madness in Yellow Wallpaper

Charlotte Perkins Gilmans The Yellow Wallpaper, relays to the reader something more than a simple story of a woman at the mercy of the limited medical knowledge in the late 1800s. Gilman creates a character that expresses real emotions and a psyche that can be examined in the context of modern understanding. The Yellow Wallpaper, written in first person and first published in 1892 in the January edition of the New England Magazine, depicts the downward spiral of depression, loss of control and competence, and feelings of worthlessness which lead to greater depression and the possibility of schizophrenia.

This paper will explore two possible causes of the main characters madness. These causes are the subjugating treatment inflicted upon her by her husband, and the idea that the main character has clinical schizophrenia. Additionally, this paper will examine the parallels of Gilmans true-life experiences as compared to those of the main character. The beginning emphasis will be on the interaction and roles of the husband and wife in The Yellow Wallpaper, which are based on the male dominated times of the late 1800s.

The main character, a woman whose name is never revealed, tells us of the mental state of mind she is under and how her husband and his brother, both physicians, dismiss it. “You see, he does not believe I am sick! And what can one do? If a physician of high standing, and one’s own husband, assures friends and relatives that there is really nothing the matter with one but temporary nervous depression — a slight hysterical tendency — what is one to do? ” (671).

The doctors seem completely unable to admit that there might be more to her condition than just stress and a slight nervous disorder even when a summer in the country and weeks of bed-rest have not helped. It might be thought that it is a simple matter of a loving husband being overprotective of his ill wife, but this assumption is quickly washed away by his arrogant attitudes, combined with his callous treatment of her which only serve to compound the problem.

At first he meant to repaper the room, but afterwards he said that I was letting it get the better of me, and that nothing was worse for a nervous patient than to give way to such fancies (673). John treats his wife in a manner that gives her reason to doubt herself and her capabilities. She has been forbidden to do certain things by her husband John the details of which are never explicitly stated, but it can be assumed that it is because of her frailty that some of these activities have been taken away from her.

Prohibited to work and not being able to contribute to the household as a proper wife and new mother she begins to feel helpless: “So I am absolutely forbidden to “work” until I am well again. Personally, I disagree with their ideas. ” (671). Additionally, she has been told not to write: “There comes John, and I must put this away — he hates to have me write a word. “(672). With no creative outlet her mind starts to find things upon which to dwell, things that only she can see. Virtually imprisoned in her bedroom, supposedly to allow her to rest and recover, she slowly starts to go insane.

Without compassion or an outlet for her creativity, her mind turns inward and focuses on her now increasingly shrinking universe. She has no say in the location or the decor of her room: “I don’t like our room a bit. . . But John would not hear of it. ” (672). She is not allowed visitors: “It is so discouraging not to have any advice and companionship . . . but he says he would as soon put fireworks in my pillow-case as to let me have those stimulating people about now. ” (673). In large part because of this oppression, she continues to decline.

I don’t feel as if it was worthwhile to turn my hand over for anything and Im getting dreadfully fretful and querulous. ” (675). But by keeping her a prisoner in a room with offensive wallpaper and very little to occupy her mind, John almost forces her to dwell on her psyche. Prison is supposed to be depressing, and she is pretty close to being a prisoner. The story does hint to the fact that John knows he could have done more but simply does not seem to want to be bothered with the effort of such an endeavor for his wife. He never acknowledges that she has a real problem until the end of the story — at which time he fainted.

John could have obtained council from someone less personally involved in her case, but the only help he sought was for the condition of the house and the baby. He obtained a nanny to watch over the children while he was away at work each day: “It is fortunate Mary is so good with the baby. ” (673). And he had his sister Jennie take care of the house. “She is a perfect and enthusiastic housekeeper. ” (674). There is one instance, however, when he does talk of taking her to an expert for assistance: “John says if I don’t pick up faster he shall send me to Weir Mitchell in the fall. 675)

But she took that as a threat since Dr. Mitchell was even more domineering than her husband and his brother. Perhaps, if she had been allowed to come and go and do as she pleased her depression might have lifted: “I think sometimes that if I were only well enough to write a little it would relieve the press of ideas and rest me. ” (673). It seems to her that just being able to tell someone how she really feels would have eased her depression, but her husband would not hear of it because of the embarrassing consequences it could bring to the family name.

Thus, John has made her a prisoner in their marriage where her opinions are pushed aside, and her self-worthiness questioned. She does have a rebellious spirit in her and the fact that this spirit is being crushed is the final nail towards her insanity. Her desperation is almost like someone being buried alive and screaming knowing that there are people just above but who seem not to hear or care. Her reaction is to seek to prove her husband wrong: “John is a physician, and perhaps . . . perhaps that is one reason I do not get well faster . . . (671).

While putting on an appearance of submission, in actuality she was frequently rebelling against her husband’s orders. She writes when there is nobody around to see her, and she tries to move her bed, but always keeps an eye open for someone coming. As her breakdown approaches she actually locks her husband out of her room: “I have locked the door and thrown the key down into the front path. I don’t want to go out, and I don’t want to have anybody come in, till John comes. I want to astonish him. ” (681). This forces him to see that he has been wrong, and, since she knew he could not tolerate hysteria, to eventually drive him away.

While there is supporting evidence that her husbands treatment of her was a major contributing factor to her madness, the possibility also exists that her madness was caused by an internal illness which, given the level of medical knowledge, her husband was unable to deal with appropriately. As mentioned in the beginning of this paper, Gilman creates a character that has real emotions and a real psyche that impresses upon the reader that she is slowly deteriorating into a mental illness known as schizophrenia (a disintegration of the personality).

This illness, however it manifests itself within the personality of someone is usually highlighted through a variety of symptoms. The protagonist exhibits these symptoms sporadically throughout the story. To begin with, one of the more obvious of her symptoms is her irrational obsession, displayed by relentless thoughts of and about, the yellow wallpaper that wraps the walls in her room. It is a room that she feels captured by and her obsessions start from the beginning of the story. “I never saw a worse paper in my life,” she says.

It is dull enough to confuse the eye in following, pronounced enough to constantly irritate and provoke study” (672). Taken in isolation, this kind of observation might appear to be harmless to the uninformed observer, but as her obsession with the wallpaper grows, so does her dementia. At one point she describes laying on her bed and “follow[ing] that pattern about by the hour . . . I determine for the thousandth time that I will follow that pointless pattern to some sort of conclusion” (675). Interconnected with the first symptom of irrational obsession is that of thought processing disorder.

This disorder can range in severity from a vague muddiness of thinking to a complete breakdown of ones mental processes. The first real clues that she is having trouble controlling her mental state of being comes into focus when she states, “I get unreasonably angry with John sometimes . . . I take pains to control myself before him, at least, and that makes me very tired” (672). She tries to discuss her feelings rationally, but this only brings a stern reproachful look at which she gives up and returns to her room.

Again her condition is revealed a few pages later when remarking that, “It is getting to be a great effort for me to think straight” (676). Soon, other noticeable changes in her mental state start to take shape. She slowly begins to show symptoms of paranoia, yet another unfortunate schizophrenic trait. She speaks of how happy she is that her baby is not exposed to the same torturous existence that she has to endure in her room with the yellow wallpaper. “Of course I never mention it to them any more I am too wise, but I keep watch of it all the same” (676).

Even the mistrust of her caretakers is further evidenced when she says, “The fact is I am getting a little afraid of John. He seems very queer sometimes, and even Jennie has an inexplicable look” (678). When catching Jennie looking at the yellow wallpaper, she thinks to herself, “But I know she was studying that pattern, and I am determined that nobody shall find it out but myself? ” (678). This type of paranoia is a firm indication that her psychological state is continuing to deteriorate towards complete schizophrenia. Another in the list of common symptoms of schizophrenia that the protagonist exhibits is hallucination.

Of these hallucinations, one is when she “sees” people walking in the paths that she views from her bedroom window. As her condition worsens, she begins to have other hallucinations, this time focused on the yellow wallpaper itself. This is noticed when she exclaims, “At night in any kind of light, in twilight, candlelight, lamplight, and worst of all by moonlight, it [the wallpaper] becomes bars! The outside pattern, I mean, and the woman behind it is as plain as can be” (678). In addition to her mental hallucinations, she starts to also have olfactory ones as well: “the only thing I can think of that it is like is the color of the paper!

A yellow smell” (679). The climactic stage of her hallucinations comes when she realizes: “that woman gets out in the daytime! ” (680). It is at this point that her deranged thought processes become a coping mechanism to help her deal with her mental state of being. She passes into a full schizophrenic state and transforms from a helpless, self-pitying woman, to one who feels, in her mind at least, that she has broken free of her shackles. She feels that she has gained a sense of control, no matter how false that sense may be, as she says, “I don’t want to go out, and I don’t want to have anybody come in, till John comes.

I want to astonish him” (681). Much has changed by the end of the story, so much in fact that in the end it is she who is metaphorically and literally creeping over John, who has fainted after seeing her in a deranged state of being. This is in contrast to their interactions up to this point when it was John who usually dictated and condescended her. The fact that the protagonist in this story is schizophrenic is supported by various bits of evidence. However, the question that remains to be answered is why a diagnosis of schizophrenia is important to interpreting “The Yellow Wall-Paper.

Schizophrenia is a logical choice in that it explains why the protagonist behaved in the way that she did. For her to overcome her submission to an environment that has sought to oppress her, she had to discard the personality within her that was meek and mild. This is a common defense mechanism of the mind in order to deal with situations it perceives to be uncontrollable. It is quite possible within the realm of psychological study that the combination of the stress of childbirth, post-partum depression and the mental strain of having to repress her emotions, triggered the schizophrenia.

This terrible condition may have resulted from the bonds she felt would not allow her to express herself as a human being, mother and wife, a freedom that she so desperately needed. Her slide into madness, as a way to deal with her entrapment, is similar to a caged animal that, when backed into a corner, will fight for its life. In the final synapses of the story The Yellow Wallpaper the parallels between the protagonists struggles and an event in the authors life will be explored.

The story is a vivid, partly autobiographical tale of what could be several diagnoses, one of schizophrenia or one of a struggle through clinical depression in an attempt to find ones self. First published in 1892, it is remarkable even to this day how relevant its message is in highlighting feelings of depression, worthlessness, and even mental deterioration. It is told through means of a journal that the narrator secretly keeps against the orders of her physician-husband who believes that mental stimulation will deteriorate her nervous condition.

Gilman writes, in an article published in the Forerunner in 1913, that many readers have often asked her what the purpose of her story The Yellow Wallpaper was supposed to represent. In fact, at the time of publication there was controversy as to its helpfulness to the reading public. A physician in Boston stated that the story should be banned, as it would drive anyone, who read it, mad. However, others wrote to say that it was the best description of insanity they had ever seen in print and asked if Gilman herself at one time had been in that condition.

Gilman goes on to relate the story behind the story in which she, for many years, suffered from a severe and continuous nervous breakdown. After three years in this condition and in near desperation, or as she puts it, in devout faith and some faint stir of hope she seeks out the help of a physician. Her search led her to the most prominent and best known physician for nervous diseases. Referring to this doctors diagnosis of her condition she writes, a still-good physique responded so promptly that he concluded there was nothing much the matter with me.

The prescription for her aliment was to send her home to: live as domestic a life as far as possible,” to “have but two hours’ intellectual life a day,” and “never to touch pen, brush, or pencil again” for as long as she lived. This was in 1887 when Gilman was but twenty-seven years old. This prescription almost completely mirrors those that are given to our protagonist, If a physician of high standing, and ones own husband, assures friends and relatives that there is really nothing the matter with one but temporary nervous depression a slight hysterical tendency what is one to do . . .

So I take my phosphates or phosphite . . . and air, and exercise, and I am absolutely forbidden to work until I am well again. (671), and the acceptance of that prescription is taken reluctantly in both the story Personally, I disagree with their ideas (671), and in reality. Gilman admits that she did obey the doctors advice and went home and followed his instructions for three months only to find herself coming close to utter mental ruin. With what intellect she still possessed and with the help of a close friend she gave up on the doctors order and went back to work trying to lead as normal a life as possible.

This casting off of the doctors order in real life somewhat parallels that of the narrator as she secretly writes in her journal against the instructions from her husband. Being free from the confines of passivity that she was prescribed, she resumes her literary career and starts to write The Yellow Wallpaper with all its embellishments and additions of her own experience. Humorously, and with a bit of sarcasm, she sends a copy of the work to the physician who nearly drove me crazy, but he never responds to her obvious criticism. Gilman feels alienists value the story and that it is a good example of one kind of literature.

To her knowledge it has saved the life of at least one person and she hoped that it would save the lives of others, It was not intended to drive people crazy, but to save people from being driven crazy, and it worked. Many years later she was told that the great specialist had admitted to friends of his that he had changed his treatment of neurasthenia since reading “The Yellow Wallpaper. ” In conclusion, the progression of madness contained within The Yellow Wallpaper can be viewed from different angles depending on ones inclination.

One can place blame on the oppression that the protagonist has to endure throughout this ordeal by a husband who might have had good intentions but ultimately ruined her with neglect. Or, it could be argued that she was mentally unstable naturally and this madness manifested itself under the extreme stresses of loss of control and intellectual depravity. However the reader chooses to view it, Gilman lived through a similar situation and wrote this story in hopes of helping others in a similar situation and also to help heal a dying soul, that of her own.

The short story “The Yellow Wall-Paper” written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

The short story “The Yellow Wall-Paper” written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is a cry for freedom. This story is about a woman who fights for her right to express what she feels, and fights for her right to do what she wants to do. The narrator in this short story is a woman whose husband loves her very much, but oppresses her to the point where she cannot take it anymore. This story revolves around the main character, her oppressed life, and her search for freedom. There are many male influences in this woman’s life and although they may mean no harm, push her over the edge.

The main character’s husband, John, and her brother are well-known physicians. They use their power to control the main character, perhaps subconsciously, to feel what they think a woman should feel. For example, the woman tells the men she is sick but they believe differently. “John is a physician, and perhaps- (I would not say it to a living soul, of course, but this is dead paper and a great relief to my mind-) perhaps that is one reason I do not get well faster. You see he does not believe I am sick! 507)

The men are under the impression that what they say goes and therefore the woman has no choice but to follow. “He knows there is no reason to suffer and that satisfies him. “(508) This quote illustrates that the men are in control. If they strongly believe nothing is wrong, then nothing must be wrong. It is a feeling of self satisfaction the men feel when they are superior to the woman. The main character knows John loves her, but it is the oppression she feels that bothers her so. Her husband expresses his love for her but at the same time imposes his will on her.

He hinders her from having her own thoughts. “He is very careful and loving, and hardly lets me stir without special direction”(507) The last few words of this quote show how John did not let her have any freedom because he was always there. John acts as if he knows what the main character feels at all times. The main character had absolutely no freedom, for her husband would let nothing happen unless he was there to supervise. An example of this treatment is when she wanted to get out of the house and visit some cousins, but John insisted she really did not want to go. “Dear John!

He loves me very dearly, and hates to have me sick. I tried to have a real earnest reasonable talk with him the other day, and tell him how I wish he would let me go and make a visit to Cousin Henry and Julia. But he said I wasn’t able to go, nor able to stand it after I got there”(511) The main character understands her husband loves her, but he insists on her doing what he wants her to do. John says she will not stand it after she got there, but how did he know this? John has absolutely no idea how his wife feels, he just imposes his ways on her and expects her to abide.

John sees no reason why his wife should go so therefore he believes she should not. He does not consider her wanting to go a good enough reason for him to let her go visit. Another example of the misery the main character feels is her inability to write freely. The woman hides herself while she writes the frustration she feels inside. Writing is this woman’s only way of expressing her emotions, the anger, sadness, fear, and what little happiness she felt. She cannot express these emotions physically in public so she writes them down or else she will suffocate in her incapability to express her mind.

John strongly disapproves his wife’s writing because he knows he will not be able to control this factor of her life. “He says that with my imaginative power and habit of story-making, a nervous weakness like mine is sure to lead to all manner of excited fancies, and that I ought to use my will and good the check the tendency. “(509) The husband knows she has the ability to think for herself. He tells her she should use her “good sense” not to do use this ability. John is also aware of her imaginative power, and this is a power he does not like.

If John gives in to this power then he loses all control over his wife. The main character states many times her need for expressing her thoughts. “I don’t know why I should write this. I don’t want to. I don’t feel able. And I know John would think it absurd. But I must say what I feel and think in some way— it is a relief! “(511) Gilman shows in this quote that this woman is oppressed by her husband. It is almost as if she is fighting between having to conform with this oppressed way of life and her need for freedom. The woman states she does not want to write, she does not feel able.

This is her dispirited self. When she states: “I must say what I feel It is such a relief! “(511), this woman is actually wanting independence even if she must defy her husband. The main character’s oppression is due to her husband, but the house and specifically the room she stayed in helped her realize who she really was, and helped her find the freedom she looked for. The yellow wallpaper which covered the room disturbed her greatly. At the beginning of the story she hated the color. “The color is repellent, almost revolting, ..

DullI should hate it myself I had to live in this room long. “(508) Through this the woman expresses her feelings towards the room, but specifically the wallpaper. Throughout her stay at the house and as the oppression sets in even greater, she begins to see patterns in the wallpaper. The woman is engrossed in finding what this pattern is all about, what meaning it holds. She states: ” and I determine for the thousandth time that I will follow that pointless pattern to some conclusion. “(510) The woman longed to find some kind of importance in that pattern.

The woman herself has made conclusions as to what the pattern symbolized. Being in the house, closed all day, oppressed by her husband, not being able to do anything the woman had all the time in the world to think about the meaning. She makes an unclear conclusion that the wall symbolizes a woman behind a cell. Perhaps the woman, the main character, sees herself in the wallpaper. She states: ” By daylight she is subdued, quiet. I fancy it is the pattern that keeps her so still”(511) She describes herself in the paper, but she is also subdued by day.

The main character mentions “I don’t sleep much at night, but I sleep a good deal in the daytime”(513) By using these quotes from the main character Gilman gives us the impression that the main character is describing herself subconsciously. Another example of the main character’s resemblance to the woman in the wallpaper is when she states: “I think that the woman gets out in the daytime! I see her in that long shaded lane, creeping up and down. I see her in those dark grape arbors, creeping all around the garden.

I see her on that long road under the trees” (514) Much similar to what the woman in the wallpaper does all day the woman also has a daily routine. “So I walk a little in the garden or down that lovely lane, or sit on the porch under the roses”(516) Combining both of these quotes allows the reader to realize that the woman in the wallpaper and the woman in the room are the same person. All of these patterns the main character sees, and the resemblance she makes to herself, lead her to try to change her life. As John’s wife discovers the meaning of the yellow wallpaper she changes. “Life is very much exciting now than it used to be.

I have something more to expect, to look forward to”(513) This quote describes how the main character perceives life now than what she used to, and that was conforming to her husband. By the end, the last thing the main character can do is rip up the wallpaper, and help the woman in the wall to become free. In other words to help herself to become free. She sits and waits for her husband to come home to confront him, to reach her goal of freedom, to not be subdued anymore. “I’ve got out at last,” said I, “in spite of you and Jane? And I’ve pulled off most of the paper, so you can’t put me back! “(516)

The Yellow Wallpaper – A Descent into Madness

The Yellow Wallpaper – A Descent into Madness In the nineteenth century, women in literature were often portrayed as submissive to men. Literature of the period often characterized women as oppressed by society, as well as by the male influences in their lives. The Yellow Wallpaper presents the tragic story of a woman’s descent into depression and madness. Gilman once wrote “Women’s subordination will only end when women lead the struggle for their own autonomy, thereby freeing man as well as themselves, because man suffers from the distortions that come from dominance, just as women are scarred by the subjugation imposed upon them” (Lane 5).

The Yellow Wallpaper brilliantly illustrates this philosophy. The narrator’s declining mental health is reflected through the characteristics of the house she is trapped in and her husband, while trying to protect her, is actually destroying her. The narrator of the story goes with her doctor/husband to stay in a colonial mansion for the summer. The house is supposed to be a place where she can recover from severe postpartum depression. She loves her baby, but knows she is not able to take care of him. “It is fortunate Mary is so good with the baby. Such a dear baby!

And yet I cannot be with him, it makes me so nervous” (Gilman 642). The symbolism utilized by Gilman is somewhat askew from the conventional. A house usually symbolizes security. In this story the opposite is true. The protagonist, whose name we never learn, feels trapped by the walls of the house, just as she is trapped by her mental illness. The windows of her room, which normally would symbolize a sense of freedom, are barred, holding her in. (Biedermann 179, 382). From the outset the reader is given a sense of the domineering tendencies of the narrator’s husband, John.

The narrator tells us: “John is a physician, and perhaps (I would not say it to a living soul, of course, but this is dead paper and a great relief to my mind) perhaps that is one reason I do not get well faster” (Gilman 640). It is painfully obvious that she feels trapped and unable to express her fears to her husband. “You see, he does not believe I am sick. And what can one do? If a physician of high standing and one’s own husband assures friends and relatives that there is really nothing the matter with one but temporary nervous depression a slight hysterical tendency what is one to do? Her husband is not the only male figure who dominates and oppresses her. Her brother, also a doctor, “says the same thing” (Gilman 640-641).

Because the story is written in diary format, we feel especially close to this woman. We are in touch with her innermost thoughts. The dominance of her husband, and her reaction to it, is reflected throughout the story. The narrator is continually submissive, bowing to her husband’s wishes, even though she is unhappy and depressed. Her husband has adopted the idea that she must have complete rest if she is to recover.

This is a direct parallel to Gilman’s life, wherein during her illness she was treated by a doctor who introduced her to the “rest cure. ” She was instructed to live a domestic life, only engage in intellectual activities two hours a day, and “never to touch pen, brush, or pencil again” as long as she lived (Gilman 640). In this story, the narrator’s husband, John, does not want her to work. “So I . . . am absolutely forbidden to work’ until I am well again”(Gilman 641). John does not even want her to write. There comes John, and I must put this away he hates to have me write a word”(Gilman 642). It is also a direct allusion to Gilman’s personal experience that the narrator is experiencing severe postpartum depression. Gilman suffered from the same malady after the birth of her own daughter (Gilman 639). It is interesting that the room her husband chooses for them, the room the narrator hates, is the nursery. The narrator describes the nursery as having barred windows and being “atrocious” (Gilman 641-642).

The narrator’s response to the room is a further example of her submissive behavior. “I don’t like our room a bit. I wanted one downstairs that opened onto the piazza and had roses all over the window, and such pretty old fashioned chintz hangings! But John would not hear of it” (Gilman 641). Although she is practically a prisoner in the room, she is given no voice in choosing or decorating it. She attempts to justify John’s treatment of her. “He is very careful and loving, and hardly lets me stir without special direction.

I have a schedule . . . I feel basely ungrateful not to value it more”(Gilman 641). Even though she knows that writing and socializing would help her recover faster, she still allows the male figures in her life to dominate and control her treatment. “I sometimes fancy that in my condition, if I had less opposition and more society and stimulus but John says the very worst thing I can do is to think about my condition, and I confess it always makes me feel bad”(Gilman 641). I believe that the narrator’s husband loves her very much.

He is tender with her and speaks to her in a loving, sometimes child-like manner. However, he obviously does not want anyone knowing the extent of his wife’s mental illness, referring to it as a “temporary nervous depression a slight hysterical tendency” (Gilman 641). I believe this is also a reflection of the way women and mental illness were perceived in the nineteenth century. Women were supposed to let their men take care of them, and mental illness was often swept under the carpet. The husband, John, did not want the stigma of mental illness tied to his family. He says that no one but myself can help me out of it, that I must use my will and self-control and not let any silly fancies run away with me. (Gilman 645). In reading this story I had to constantly remind myself that society today treats mental illness differently, and that this was written from a nineteenth century perspective. The narrator continues to repress her own needs and allow her husband to dominate. Seeing the wallpaper in the bedroom, she writes: “I never saw a worse paper in my life one of those sprawling, flamboyant patterns committing every artistic sin” (Gilman 642).

It is also interesting to note that the bed in the room is a “great immovable bed” which is “nailed down” (Gilman 644). I wondered if this was a metaphoric reference to her husband’s attitude about her illness. As she looks out the window, she can see the garden. She describes flowers, paths, and arbors. All that she sees outside is beautiful. Just as Gilman uses the room the woman hates as a metaphor for her mental illness, she uses the beautiful garden as a metaphor for the mental health the woman craves. The narrator’s husband also stifles these thoughts. I always fancy I see people waling in these numerous paths and arbors, but John has cautioned me not to give way to fancy in the least. He says that with my imaginative power and habit of story-making, a nervous weakness like mine is sure to lead to all manner of excited fancies, and that I ought to use my good will and good sense to check the tendency. So I try” (Gilman 642). The more time she spends in the room, the more obsessed with the wallpaper she becomes. In her mind, the wallpaper becomes more than just wallpaper. It takes on human characteristics. This paper looks to me as if it knew what a vicious influence it had” (Gilman 643)! When the story begins the narrator refers to the house as haunted.

This theme is again brought to the forefront when she begins describing the wallpaper. “There is a recurrent spot where the pattern lolls like a broken neck and two bulbous eyes stare at you upside down” (Gilman 643). Gilman’s sensory descriptions are ingenious. The descriptions are intense and detailed. They make the reader a part of the story, increase suspense, and help the “reader’s perception of the particular kind of insanity that afflicts the narrator” (Cunningham par. ). In reading the story we are provided not only detailed visual images, but vivid olfactory descriptions as well. We are told: But there is something else about that paper the smell! I noticed it the moment we came into the room, but with so much air and sun it was not bad. Now we have had a week of fog and rain, and whether the windows are open or not, the smell is here. It creeps all over the house. I find it hovering in the dining-room, skulking in the parlor, hiding in the hall, lying in wait for me on the stairs. It gets into my hair.

Even when I go to ride, if I turn my head suddenly and surprise it-there is that smell! Such a peculiar odor, too! I have spent hours trying to analyze it, to find what it smelled like. It is not bad — at first, very gentle, but quite the subtlest, most enduring odor I ever met. In this damp weather it is awful. I wake up in the night and find it hanging over me. It used to disturb me at first. I thought seriously of burning the houseto reach the smell. But now I am used to it. The only thing I can think of that it is like is the color of the paper! A yellow smell. (Cunningham par. ; Gilman 647) The combination of Gilman’s words, and the short choppy sentence structure, combine to allow the reader grasp the depths of the narrator’s insanity. In addition to the sense of smell, the reader is also captured by the sense of touch. The narrator tells us: “The faint figure behind seemed to shake the pattern, just as if she wanted to get out. I got up softly and went to feel and see if the paper did move and when I came back John was awake (Gilman 645). She further tells us: “The front pattern does move and no wonder! The woman behind shakes it”(Gilman 647)!

It is through these compelling descriptions, utilizing the reader’s senses, that Gilman is “pulling the reader into the narrator’s world . . . these descriptions nearly perfectly encapsulate what we might all imagine it is like to be insane”(Cunningham par. 5). It is as if the haunting images of the wallpaper mirror the haunting feelings inside the narrator’s mind. The heroine, unable to openly express her feelings to anyone, begins to see herself through the wallpaper. She imagines a woman trapped behind the wallpaper, just as she is trapped in the room and in her mind.

The wallpaper, and the barrier it poses to the woman behind it, as imagined by the narrator, mirror the narrator’s own thoughts about being confined in a room with barred windows. “At night in any kind of light, in twilight, candlelight, lamplight, and worst of all by moonlight, it becomes bars! The outside pattern, I mean, and the woman behind it is as plain as can be” (Gilman 646). The heroine is also behind bars. “I am getting angry . . . but the bars are too strong . . . “(Gilman 649). The behavior of the woman behind the wallpaper mirrors the narrator’s behavior. By daylight she is subdued, quiet. I fancy it is the pattern that keeps her so still. It is so puzzling. It keeps me quiet by the hour” (Gilman 646). The narrator is also subdued in the daytime. “I don’t sleep much at night, for it is so interesting to watch developments; but I sleep a good deal during the daytime” (Gilman 647). Another parallel between the actions of the narrator and the woman behind the wallpaper is reflected when the narrator looks out the window and sees “her in that long shaded lane, creeping up and down. I see her in those dark grape arbors, creeping around the garden.

I see her on that long road under the trees, creeping along, and when a carriage comes she hides under the blackberry vines. I don’t blame her a bit. It must be very humiliating to be caught creeping by daylight: (Gilman 648)! The narrator is expressing her own humiliation in having to sneak around. “I always lock the door when I creep by daylight. I can’t do it at night, for I know John would suspect something at once”(Gilman 648). Similarly, while her husband is away, the narrator sometimes will “walk a little in the garden or down that lovely lane, sit on the porch under the roses, . . “(Gilman 644). As the narrator realizes the meaning of the wallpaper, her life begins to change. “Life is much more exciting now than it used to be. You see, I have something more to expect, to look forward to, to watch. I really do eat better, and am more quiet than I was” (Gilman 647). It is apparent that she is still feeling imprisoned by her husband. “I suppose I shall have to get back behind the pattern when it comes night, and that is hard” (Gilman 649)! However, she has decided to rebel and break free. “I’ve got out at last,’ said I, in spite of you and Jane.

And I’ve pulled off most of the paper so you can’t put me back'” (Gilman 650)! Because the story is somewhat autobiographical, Gilman is able to vividly portray a woman’s descent into madness. She “wrote the story to effect change in the treatment of depressive women” (Gilman 640). She once stated that “It was not intended to drive people crazy, but to save people from being driven crazy” (Anderson par. 10). The story brilliantly depicts a woman whose opinions and feelings have never been acknowledged or recognized as valid in the real world.

The room, and particularly the wallpaper she hates so much, become the center of her world her voice. She realizes the woman in the wallpaper is herself, and is finally able to break free. Perhaps it can all be summed up in this exchange: “John is so pleased to see me improve! He laughed a little the other day, and said I seemed to be flourishing in spite of my wallpaper. I turned it off with a laugh. I had no intention of telling him it was because of the wallpaper . . . “(Gilman 647).

The Yellow Wallpaper: We Must Creep to be Heard

It’s 2:00am and I cannot sleep. I toss and turn while the question, “Why didn’t you stand up for yourself? ” keeps playing over and over in my mind. The picture in my mind of a subjugated woman who feebly attempts to fight against feminine oppression and her impending insanity is vivid and disturbing and continues to slap against the recesses of my mind with an angry hand. What was Charlotte Perkins Gilman attempting to convey to her readers when she wrote “The Yellow Wallpaper” and created the characters of the narrator, her husband John, Mary and her sister-in-law Jennie?

Obviously, in an exaggerated version of her own experience with post-partum depression and its prescribed “rest cure”, Gilman speaks of a world in which the female is forced into a role of the submissive counterpart to male dominance. In the following pages, I will describe how Gilman has effectively created characters that draw us into their view of control, dominance and frustrated silence against imprisonment in a paternalistic society, and how we are given a view into a perfectly healthy mind that goes awry.

To begin with, Gilman created the narrator as a nearly anonymous identity; we know her only as John’s wife. This power imbalance extends to other areas of their relationship. John dominates her in a progressively patronizing manner. His character is displayed as strong, practical and stereotypically masculine and he seems skeptical of her seemingly weak, feminine condition. John diagnoses her problem, and prescribes the “rest cure” he believes she needs.

The narrator has no say in her condition, and when she attempts to speak her mind, he treats her like a child and makes light of her voice. “John laughs at me, of course, but one expects that” (An Introduction to Fiction 572) which illustrates the role women are expected to play and accept in a marriage. Another main function Gilman gave of John’s control over the narrator is his inhibiting of her writing. Although she believes writing would help her condition, as I’m sure Gilman did, John insists it would only debilitate her ailment further.

He stifles her creativity and intellect, forcing her into the role of the submissive wife. She is forced to hide her writings, which frustrate her more “I did write for a while in spite of them; but it does exhaust me a good dealhaving to be so sly about it, or else meet with heavy opposition” (572). Gilman writes of the narrator as imprisoned, unable to exercise dominion over her own mind. Furthermore, her role as a mother and wife are subverted, which allows for further repression and diminished self-worth.

We know the narrator and John have a baby, but the baby, as a character, is quite flat and doesn’t play a significant role in the story, if only to clarify the narrator’s feeling of inadequacy over her wifely and maternal duties. Mary (a likely allusion to the perfect mother, the Virgin Mary) has replaced her as the caretaker of the baby, and Jennie plays the model of a perfectly submissive and happily domesticated wife.

In an attempt to retreat from her inability to be a good mother and wife, she focuses on her immediate surroundings and allows her mind to get drawn into delusions and fantasies revolving around the house, and more specifically, the room she is imprisoned in. The structure of the house and its surroundings bear out the suppression of the narrator’s mind “there are hedges and walls and gates that lock, and lots of separate little houses for the gardeners and peopleI never saw such a garden, large and shady, full of box-bordered paths” (572). Everything seems separated and boxed in, like a prison, and she is held captive in her room.

Interestingly enough, I was under the impression that Gilman wrote of the house much like that of a man: larger than life, full of aggression and competitiveness. Even the fact that it was a “hereditary estate” (572) reminds us that it was probably passed down to the men in the family. The fact that John ordered the narrator to reside in the large nursery on the second floor is further evidence of his control over her. She voiced her opposition and her desire to be able to choose one of the rooms downstairs with a view of the garden, but to no avail.

Notice here, Gilman has described the narrator as desiring a more stereotypically feminine room, one that “opened to the piazza and had roses all over the window” (573). But predictably, John would not hear of it and she is forced to rest in the nursery with no visitors, no writing and only the wallpaper to stare at. The nursery also has bars on the windows, another symbol of imprisonment. Of course the narrator hates the wallpaper most of all, almost as a parody of how she hates that room, and furthermore, her suppressed life.

She describes the wallpaper and its design “when you follow the lame uncertain curves for a little distance they suddenly commit suicideplunge off at outrageous angles, destroy themselves in unheard-of-contradictions” (573). Gilman, here, describes what is to comea foreshadowing of the delicate nature of the narrator’s mind. Her sanity is in turmoil and conflict, she is fighting a determination to be heard, and, not being able to in her society, retreats into herself, committing social suicide as a way to escape her imprisonment.

In another subtle hint, Gilman addresses the significance of sunshine and moonlight as a direct caricature of man and woman. Sunshine dominates the nursery for most of the day, much like John dominates the narrator as he gives her “a scheduled prescription for each hour of the day” (573), and, subsequently, the narrator begins to sleep most of the day. The moon, however, symbolizes female intuition and sensitivity and appears to liberate the narrator in some form. The sunshine is also equated with the yellow wallpaper, which is “faded by the slow turning sunlighta sickly sulphur tint” (573), which is symbolic of the narrator’s illness.

Gilman provides additional evidence that the narrator’s mind is growing more chaotic as time passes. The garden becomes less appealing to her with its “riotuous old-fashioned flowers, and bushes and gnarly trees” (574). These words seem to mirror the narrator’s state of mind, which grows less fluent and more irregular in her writing. The wallpaper becomes a centralized focus for the narrator and its effects are spookily apparent as the narrator spends more and more time attempting to decipher the wallpapers contents.

The narrator begins to feel watched over by the wallpaper, much like John and Jennie watch over her, adding to her sense of imprisonment. The sunlight motif appears again when she claims she can see a figure in the wallpaper “a strange, provoking formless sort of figure that seems to skulk about behind that silly and conspicuous front design” (575). All of a sudden, the wallpaper becomes an all-consuming focus of the narrator and she begins to feel a connection with its contents, perhaps a hope for her own identity since in her current state, she lives through John’s identity.

It is John’s paternalistic actions toward the narrator that are driving her toward the wallpaper. He controls her every action, and Gilman even makes a reference to her former doctor Mitchell, who prescribed her a similar “rest cure”, and who is “just like John and my brother, only more so! ” (574). The figure behind the wallpaper begins to take shape and the narrator describes her as a woman “And it is like a woman stooping down and creeping about behind that pattern. ” (577). The motif of moonlight and sunshine really develop here.

It is during this time, at night, that the narrator gains the courage to request that John take her away from this place, although her plea is unsuccessful. Then, the wallpaper’s pattern emerges by moonlight. The woman behind the wallpaper symbolizes the oppression of female domestication: she is barred from exiting the wallpaper. The narrator is only subconsciously aware of this oppression at night, when her mind is allowed to roam.

During the day, the narrator is repressed, like the wallpaper “In the daytime it is tiresome and perplexing. (580) Here the narrator’s writing becomes more and more choppier and paranoid. She believes everyone is trying to figure out the meaning of the wallpaper which she vehemently wants to do herself “I am determined that nobody shall find it out but myself! ” (580). The woman behind the wallpaper become more evident and in her domesticated prison of the wallpaper, she shakes the bars to try to escape “The woman behind it shakes it! ” (581) Eventually, the narrator assists in the escape plan as her insanity climaxes and she identifies completely with the woman in the wallpaper.

She now believes she is that woman coming out of the wallpaper. Again, the symbolic meaning is that she has finally liberated herself from masculine oppression by tearing down the domesticated prison of the wallpaper. This moment of revelation again occurs by moonlight when, according to the theme Gilman has suggested, women have a break from the oppression of masculine sunshine. The narrator’s statement “I’ve got out at lastin spite of you and Jane! ” (584) is a final attempt to give herself, the narrator, an identity. We, as the readers, are finally given a name for her.

It is ironic then, as John rushed into the room, that he should faint, which is typically a stereotypical feminine show of weakness. Gilman is an incredibly courageous woman to express her feministic views during her era. It is evident that, through her own experiences with oppression, she attempted to horrify women into thinking for themselves, using their own minds, fighting against oppression. She has created characters women could identify with, with the same point of views. Gilman was not afraid of being caught acting her feministic ways by expressing her ideas, as the narrator was with her creeping about.

The narrator clearly drew us a picture of the effects of suppression of the mind and impending insanity. Gilman may have wanted us, as readers, to look beyond the yellow wallpaper toward feministic freedom; to tear down the wall of oppression; to not continue to creep about. This view of “creeping” may specify that early feminism needed to creep about silently in the shadows until it could stand tall. The large mass of women the narrator sees are these early practitioners of feminism, as Gilman was, who draw strength in their numbers and have crept out of the wallpaper of repression and now creep outside.

The women in The Story of an Hour and The Yellow Wallpaper

The women in The Story of an Hour and The Yellow Wallpaper attempt to overcome their oppression by finding an outlet. They tried to find something or do something that would comfort them. In The Story of an Hour, the window is the main symbol. Correspondingly, in The Yellow Wallpaper, the wallpaper itself is the main symbol. In The Story of an Hour, the window is what symbolizes Mrs. Mallards freedom in that she has new opportunities. She says that she is finally free, free body and soul. She says this because she realizes that she is finally free from her husband.

It can be inferred from the story she was oppressed because she didnt have any opportunities in the past. The window is what releases her from her oppression by setting her free and giving her new opportunities that were not available to her in the past. In The Yellow Wallpaper, the wallpaper symbolizes her oppression in a way. In which Johns wife sees a woman in the wallpaper. During the daytime the light makes it look as if she is behind bars shaking them. However, during the night the woman in the wallpaper creeps around.

Johns Wife relates the woman in the wallpaper to herself by saying that she creeps in the daytime when John isnt around. However, during the night she is quite still because John is around and he will notice her. Johns wife tries to overcome her oppression by setting the woman free inside the wallpaper, in order to free her oppression. Which the house itself is a prison for her since John wont let her leave and that he keeps telling her that writing will make her worse, while it was only depression. Both stories are not to be taken literally because of the meanings behind each of he main symbols. The women in the story try to overcome their oppression by finding an outlet for how they feel and their depression.

Mrs. Mallard uses the window which sets her free. Johns wife tears down the wallpaper and she tries to write to get her feelings out. Words / Pages : 352 / 24 Yellow Wallpaper The women in The Story of an Hour and The Yellow Wallpaper attempt to overcome their oppression by finding an outlet. They tried to find something or do something that would comfort them. In The Story of an Hour, the window is the main symbol.

Correspondingly, in The Yellow Wallpaper, the wallpaper itself is the main symbol. In The Story of an Hour, the window is what symbolizes Mrs. Mallards freedom in that she has new opportunities. She says that she is finally free, free body and soul. She says this because she realizes that she is finally free from her husband. It can be inferred from the story she was oppressed because she didnt have any opportunities in the past. The window is what releases her from her oppression by setting her free and giving her new opportunities that were not available to her in the past.

In The Yellow Wallpaper, the wallpaper symbolizes her oppression in a way. In which Johns wife sees a woman in the wallpaper. During the daytime the light makes it look as if she is behind bars shaking them. However, during the night the woman in the wallpaper creeps around. Johns Wife relates the woman in the wallpaper to herself by saying that she creeps in the daytime when John isnt around. However, during the night she is quite still because John is around and he will notice her. Johns wife tries to overcome her oppression by setting the woman free inside the wallpaper, in order to free er oppression.

Which the house itself is a prison for her since John wont let her leave and that he keeps telling her that writing will make her worse, while it was only depression. Both stories are not to be taken literally because of the meanings behind each of the main symbols. The women in the story try to overcome their oppression by finding an outlet for how they feel and their depression. Mrs. Mallard uses the window which sets her free. Johns wife tears down the wallpaper and she tries to write to get her feelings out.

The Yellow Wallpaper and Hysteria

In the 19th century, mental illness was an uncommon issue to be discussed. The public would treat the illness only by avoiding the matter and forcing the sick to feel helpless. At that time, the medical profession had not yet distinguished between diseases of the mind and diseases of the brain. Neurologists such as Dr. Silas Mitchell treated the problems that would now be treated by psychiatrists, such as depression. The most accepted cure was Mitchell’s “Rest Cure,” which required complete isolation from family and friends. It forbid any type of mental or physical energy, and required total bed rest.

The harsh results of the “Rest Cure” are easily seen in the story titled “The Yellow Wallpaper” written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman in 1891. The main character was given the “Rest Cure” and soon began to descend deeper into the traps of insanity. Before fully understanding mental illnesses her actions would be linked to “hysteria”. Hysteria was the term given to women with signs of depression. (Showalter, p. 127) Embedded largely in women’s discouraged ambitions and limited opportunities, a reaction of supposed hysteria cases occurred during the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Due to rise in this type of mental illness, the period became known as the “Golden Age of Hysteria. ” Authorities of the time defined the problem in terms of femininity and female sexuality. Coming from the Greek term hysteron, meaning womb, hysteria was known as a strictly female illness that was caused by women’s delicate constitutions and emotionality. Many doctors believed the uterus caused it, which was why they concluded that men could not become hysterical. (Showalter, p. 129) Hysteria was assumed a largely self-created or imagined illness.

People did not generally take it, or mental illness seriously. Though hysteria became a focal point of study by physicians throughout the world. Symptoms included fainting, vomiting, choking, sobbing, paralysis, and temperamental fits. Reflecting the belief that women were prone to hysteria because they were less rational and stable than men. Dr. Edward Tilt, in a typical Victorian textbook definition, wrote: “mutability is a characteristic of hysteria, because it is characteristic of women” (Showalter, p. 129).

As more studies were conducted, however, some doctors began to link hysteria with restricted activity and sexual repression. One doctor wrote in 1879: “the range of activity of women is so limited, and their available paths of work in life so few, compared with those which men have in the present social arrangements, that they have not, like men, vicarious outlets for feelings in a variety of healthy aims and pursuits. ” Strong women who exhibited more than the usual amount of forceful, confident, and fearless behavior were particularly prone to hysteria, according to F.

C. Skey, a Victorian Age physician. (Showalter, p. 130) In fact, as shown in “The Yellow Wallpaper”, strong and creative women were forbidden from exercising their minds and bodies. They often struck out with fits of hysteria, or became extremely depressed because they could not find useful outlets for their energy. The narrator was unable to express her thoughts through writing, because her health depended upon her remaining relaxed and peaceful. In addition, postpartum depression was not diagnosed as a reasonable condition during Gilman’s time.

Motherhood brings significant hormonal and other changes that require psychological adjustment. After giving birth, some women become extremely depressed. Postpartum depression, coupled with the unfair social constraints of the Victorian Era, drove some women mad, causing serious mental illness and even suicide. (Showalter, p. 130) The main character in “The Yellow Wallpaper” encounters many signs of entrapment. Her mind and body are unable to escape the toucher of the “Rest Cure” given to her by her husband. It is apparent from the beginning of the story that her husband physically and spiritually traps her.

Though she wanted a room downstairs that opened onto the forum, John would not change his mind. “I wanted one downstairs that opened onto the pizza and had roses all over the windows, and such pretty old-fashion chintz hangings, But John would not hear it. ” The narrator strives for some space of her own close to her family. Instead John has put his wife on the top floor away from the rest of the household. She believes that the room is a “nursery first and then playroom and gymnasium. ” Though she recognizes her captivity she overlooks other more threatening signs of her confinement.

Signs such as, the bars at the window, the gate at the top of the stairs, steel rings on the wall, and the nailed-down bedstead. This should show her that this room was meant for incarceration. (Korb, p. 3) This habit of deliberately misreading her surroundings is evident throughout the story. She continues to fool herself in believing what John really wishes her to believe. She explains how writing would better her and relieve her mind. “I think sometimes that if I were only well enough to write a little it would relieve the press of ideas and rest me. Then she contradicts her statement so that she may mislead herself into believing what John feels is right. “But I find I get pretty tired when I try. ”

She doesn’t recognize his subtle way of controlling her. He has her justifying her own actions without him even saying it. He is slowly manipulating her mind, and sending her deeper into her insanity. When she is speaking to John at nighttime she doesn’t notice that he is acting very unconcerned. He says things that illustrate he truly doesn’t care about her healths improvement. He only tries to fool her in saying that she is getting better when she is not. You are gaining flesh and color, your appetite is better, I feel really much easier about you. ” Her response is “I don’t weigh a bit more. ”

She proves him wrong and he avoids the response by saying “But now let’s improve the shining hours by going to sleep, and talk in the morning. ” She overlooks his true intentions and focuses back on the wallpaper. She almost revels to herself and John that the “Rest Cure” isn’t working as expected. and actually show that he doesn’t care. ” begins to interpet the yellow wallpaper, as having many life like similarity ries to resorts to reasoning with herself so that she may feel husband keeping he away from any outside world her minds wanders into insanity. Her husband doesn’t know any better than to restrain her from exerting energy. He feels that he must keep her in bed to better her health. This in the end is the reason she goes insane. He must feel a bit ashamed being a doctor and not knowing of any other cure to The signs of metal illness are evident when the main character resorts to ripping at the wallpaper to release some built up anxiety.

The Yellow Wallpaper By Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Treatment of Mental Illness

Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s, “The Yellow Wallpaper” is the story of a woman’s descent into madness as the result of being isolated as a form of “treatment” when suffering from post-partum depression. On a larger scale, Gilman is also telling the story of how women were kept prisoners by the confines of the society of her time and the penalties these women incurred when they attempted to break free from these confines. In the beginning of the story, the narrator, whose name is never divulged, has been brought to an isolated country estate in order to recuperate from “a light hysterical tendency” by her husband, John, who is also a physician.

From the outset it becomes apparent that she is an unreliable narrator due to her state of mind. The paragraphs of the story are short and choppy, indicating an inability to concentrate and a mind that is racing from one thing to another. The narrator talks about her imaginings that the house is haunted,” . . . There is something strange about the house-I can feel it”; she also relates how everything she does exhausts her. These symptoms, as well as the numerous referrals by the narrator to the baby, indicate post-partum epression.

When speaking of the baby the narrator says, for example, “I cannot be with him, it makes me so nervous. ” In order to treat this “temporary nervous depression,” John isolates her from society and orders her to do nothing but rest. He even becomes upset when she wishes to write, causing this story to be “composed” of writings she manages to do in secret. John places her in the attic of the mansion, like a dirty secret, in what she believes to be a former nursery. There is, however, strong evidence that the narrator is not the first mental patient to occupy the room.

There are bars on the windows, gouges in the floor and walls, and rings fastened to the walls; the bed is bolted down and has been gnawed on, and the wallpaper has been torn off in patches. Confined to this room day after day, the narrator begins to study the wallpaper: “. . . I determine for the thousandth time that I will follow that pointless pattern to some sort of conclusion. ” “That pointless pattern” refers to the rigid pattern of complete subjugation to men that women of Gilman’s day were expected to follow.

A woman of that era was the “property” of her father until she married. She then became the chattel of her husband ith no legal rights and no authority to determine what was best for her. The narrator begins to see things in the pattern of the wallpaper: “There is a recurrent spot where the pattern lolls like a broken neck and two bulbous eyes stare at you upside down. ” This is indicative of the fate of those foolhardy women who strayed from the path society had dictated to them. A woman who attempted to break loose from that pattern was subject to social ostracism.

If not already married, she destroyed any hope she may have had of marriage, family and living within the norms of society. If already married, he risked physical punishment, the loss of her family, or was even considered mad. In either case, it is unlikely she could ever hope to be considered respectable again. [TEACHER’S NOTE: YOU NEED A TRANSITION HERE] On moonlit nights, the narrator sees bars appear on the wallpaper which are, in actuality, simply shadows from the bars in the window. She also begins to see the form of a woman behind those bars.

The woman is trying to “escape” by shaking the bars and, initially, this frightens the narrator. She fears the kind of woman who dare to attempt escape from the bars of society and the reprecussions that would ollow for that woman. Most of all, she is terrified of the rebellious thoughts in her own mind that could, if not contained, cause her to become that woman, inevitably suffering the same dreadful repercussions and destroying her life. As time goes on, the narrator’s mind slips deeper into mental illness.

She becomes increasingly paranoid about John and Jennie, the housekeeper. “The fact is, I am getting a little afraid of John. He seems very queer sometimes and even Jennie has an inexplicable look. ” She also begins to smell the yellow wallpaper wherever she goes, and soon she believes she actually sees he woman from the wallpaper creeping in the garden during the day. The narrator begins to see the woman in the wallpaper more clearly: “And she is all the time trying to climb through the patter-it strangles so; I think that is why it has so many heads.

They get through and then the pattern strangles them off and turns them upside down, and makes their eyes white! ” This is another symbolic reference to the fate of women fo tried to escape the path society has prescribed for them. As the narrator slips even deeper into madness, she becomes determined to help the woman from the wallpaper escape. She waits until she is alone, then strips the wallpaper from the wall. In order to reach higher, she attempts to move the bed; when she is unable to do so, she gnaws the bed.

The narrator locks the doors and throws the key out the window. When John finally manages to get in the room, he finds his wife, completely mad now, “creeping” around the edge of the wall. When asked what she is doing, the narrator replies, “I’ve gout out at last . . . in spite of you and Jane. And I’ve pulled off most of the paper, so you can’t put me back! ” Although Gilman does not tell us who Jane is, it is plausible that the narrator’s name is Jane nd, in her madness, she believes she has become the woman from the wallpaper and finally escaped. TEACHER’S NOTE: BRIEFLY FOLLOW UP ON THIS – SHE, AS A FREE WOMAN, IS COMPLETELY DIFFERENT THAN THE SUBSERVIENT, PASSIVE WIFE WHO BEGAN THIS NARRATIVE] “The Yellow Wallpaper” is a fascinating look into the mind of a woman slipping deeper and deeper into mental illness. It is also, however, clearly a statement by Gilman of the absurd confines society places on the women of her time and the extreme consequences that befell the women who attempted to break free of those confines.

Name, Identity and Self in Charlotte Perkins Gilmans The Yellow Wallpaper

Charlotte Perkins Gilman presents in the short story The Yellow Wallpaper a narrator of dubious identity. If a reader infers that the reference at the end of the story to Jane is indeed self-reflexive, a dichotomy between the Jane of which she speaks and the character who creeps about the room becomes apparent. This division within the single heroine can be best understood when viewed as such: within this nameless speaker are in fact two women, and as the actions of one recede the other becomes dominant.

Indeed, the reader sees two separate identities, or selves, within the narrators captive body: the proper-Jane persona, the suitably-named, dutiful and lucid wife of Dr. John; and the nameless, savage and hysterical woman, a reflection of whom the raconteur sees lurking behind the wallpapers exterior pattern. As proper-Janes affectations dissipate, those of her unsociable doppelganger fluidly fill in the gaps in the speakers psyche. The protagonist in The Yellow Wallpaper provides the reader with very few concrete details of her person.

She is a woman: mother, daughter, sister, cousin, sister-in-law and physicians wife. She is an ordinary person. She isif one were to attempt a succinct monikerMrs. John. Yet, this Mrs. Johnthis mother, this wife, this Janegradually discards the traits which adorn a decorous woman of society. The primal, villainous character Mrs. John becomes at the end of the story embodies everything that is not acceptable in Victorian society. She neglects her child, abandons her household duties , becomes increasingly paranoid and believes that she knows her medical condition better than her doctors.

In addition to her near-maniacal obsession with the yellow wallpaper, the speaker begins staying awake all night and sleeping through the day. She at times creeps about during the daytime, an action she admits is hardly commonplace. The narrator also adopts a cynical and distrustful stance regarding John and her sister-in-law Jennie (It does not do to trust people too much ), an attitude that certainly does not befit a nave and delicate gentlewoman of the time.

The trademark of a gentlewoman, her good nameupon which relies her reputationis the first casualty of the speakers progression into her second self. Due to the customs of the narrators 19th century patriarchal society, her surname (which, of course, was her fathers) was taken from her at marriage. Yet, although Mrs. Johns last name is important to her proper-Jane persona, she had no agency in its replacement with that of her husbands. So while this partial loss of legal identity may be a factor in the speakers transition of self, it is not an injury exclusive to this storys heroine.

However, throughout the context of the story, the reader sees John further attempt to steal from the narrator her given name as well. In endowing her with the pet names darling, little girl and blessed little goose, he succeeds in perpetuating the separation of his wifes sense of self from her name and its corresponding identity. Indeed, humans, pets and even inanimate objects (e. g. cars, boats and estates) are given proper names. To relinquish from the protagonist her name is to effect a form of debasement, and to place her beneath even a favorite dog.

It follows that this defilement may be a cause in the narrators creeping about, an act that is not only animalistic, but which places her physical self as low as her emotional self has been ordered. In addition, John even goes so far as to address the speaker in the third person (Bless her little heart! said he with a big hug, she shall be as sick as she pleases! ), effectively creating a split between his frail and proper wife, and the woman to whom he is speaking. This is a step the narrator later takes herself, saying, Ive got out at lastin spite of you and Jane.

Once her names are stripped from her, the protagonist is left with no concise description of her personal identity. She attempts to give a name to her developing condition, her emerging self, and is halted mid-sentence by John. I beg of you, for my sake and for our childs sake, as well as your own, that you will never for one instant let that idea enter your mind! he cries in protest. His reaction is not unfitting to a society wherein the insane are vilified and locked away from the general population in overcrowded institutions. Thus Mrs.

John is condemned to a societal form of anonymity; she has lost her former title and the person she is becoming is so aberrant to her class that it simply cannot be given a name. The central characters propensity for creeping around in the daylight is symptomatic of her crisis of identity, and not merely due to the acts visceral and base aspects. The furtiveness suggested by the creeping echoes the mysterious quality of anonymity, and the fact that the action is committed in full view of the sun reflects the narrators unchanging physical form.

Explicitly, the contradiction between attempting to be secretive in broad daylight parallels that of becoming a different person within the same skin. The literal truth is undeniable in both cases: despite the surreptitiousness of the Mrs. Johns creeping, she is still visible; and despite her mental and emotional changes, the character is still Mrs. John. Yet, the contrary is also validated within the textthe heroine locks the door so as not to be seen as she creeps , just as the reader is certain that the proper-Jane persona has been usurped by this nameless and hysterical spirit.

The character herself indicates the completion of the transformation at the conclusion of The Yellow Wallpaper. I wonder if they all came out of the wallpaper as I did? she muses. I suppose Ill have to get back behind the pattern when it comes night, and that is hard! she continues. It is apparent to the reader that these reflections signify a total transference of consciousness: Mrs. John has never been farther from her proper-Jane persona than she is as she creeps about the bedroom, celebrating her liberation from the wallpaper pattern.

Thus, the unnamed woman in The Yellow Wallpaper meets the challenge of her anonymity: she progresses from a society woman without proper identity to an inverted version of a Victorian lady, one so egregious as not to be acknowledged by appellation. Through the loss of her name, the dismissal of her former affectations and the emergence of her uncultured (yet not inhuman) alter ego, Mrs. John becomes the unnamed victim of the nameless consequences of an unidentified disorder.

The Language and Syntax of The Yellow Wallpaper

From the minute you read the read the first paragraph until you finish the last sentence, Charlotte Gilman captures her reader s attention as her character documents her own journey into insanity in The Yellow Wallpaper. As her character passes a seemingly indefinite amount of time, it becomes clear that her husband s treatment is affecting her. Gilman is able convey the narrator s changing mental state through language and syntax. Gilman manipulates the reader s perspective throughout her story as she immediately introduces us to her world.

Language plays an important role as a normal woman assesses her husband s profession and her own supposed illness. The narrator comes across intelligent if not a little paranoid-less concerned with a slighthysterical tendency but rather a queer untenanted (Gilman 691) house. Her suspicion occurs early on; appearing at first as misdirection meant to foreshadow a possible ghost story. She goes on to describe the most beautiful place with a delicious garden (Gilman 692). Her depiction is that of a quaint home-leading thereader to imagine a stable woman in a new setting.

Clearly the narrator s broad vocabulary is an indication of her right-mindedness as well as her ability to examine a condition she disagrees with. A description of the wall is necessary in order to provide a base for comparison with the rest of the story. Because we only get the narrator s point of view, descriptions of the wall become more important as a way of judging her deteriorating mental state. When first mentioned, she sees the wall as a sprawling, flamboyant pattern committing every artistic sin, (Gilman 693) once again emphasizing her present intellectual capacity.

Additionally, the wall s color contrasts a dull, yet lurid orange with a sickly sulfur tint showing different appearances depending on where the narrator looks at the wall. While the description is far from flattering, it conveys the dual nature of the wall as an evil yet compelling force by using contrasting words to describe the wall. More focus, though, is on the overall awkwardness of the wallpaper. Its lame, uncertain curves, symbolic of the narrator s supposed condition, suggest a point at which they suddenly commit suicide -quite possibly foreshadowing events of thenear future.

These curves destroy themselves in unheard-of contradictions. Each image becomes indicative of a more sinister tone. The narrator is immediately aware of an evil contained within the wallpaper. Focus remains on the wallpaper throughout the story. As the narrator explores its nature, she uncovers new aspects of the wallpaper providing further proof of her surfacing mental condition. The smell is introduced as an extension of the physical wallpaper giving it a human quality, which in itself is capable of such actions as skulking in the parlor, hiding in the hall, [and] lying in wait for me . Gilman 700) No longer is the wallpaper simply confined to the bedroom, it is now able to extend its reach throughout the house.

The narrator shows signs of increasing alienation-unable to feel comfortable in the whole house much less her bedroom. The narrator s paranoia is portrayed through her internal conversations. The reader is given insight as to what she sees, however distorted it appears, and it is through this that we become aware of her developing state. The reader is clued in to her many observations about her company and the wallpaper. I have watched John and Jennie too she exclaims in a distraught fashion.

It is as if she wants us to believe, for at least a brief second, that her mental state is either shared or nonexistent-simply a product of the paper. Instantly, this attitude changes, though as a new journal entry is evidence of the ranting of a crazy woman, afraid that John might want to take me away. It is now absolutely obvious that she has made a connection with the wallpaper, which provides her with something more to expect, to look forward to as if she is dependent on it. Studying the syntax Gilman uses reveals her characters state of thought.

As she speaks to her journal in the beginning, her speech is controlled, fluid. Paragraphs 6 and 7 create a basis for her thoughts of her husband and his treatment. She is able to calmly describe her feelings about her situation just as any other person would. The reader first has little suspicion of the author s intent. Sentence length adds to its fluidity and provides proof of her ability to convey complex thoughts. In contrast, syntax provides a new perspective to the narrator s behavior as sentence structure draws attention to her erratic behavior. By her last entry, the narrator s sentences have become short and simple.

Paragraphs 227 through 238 contain few adjectives resulting in limited descriptions yet her short sentences emphasize her actions providing plenty of imagery. The syntax quickly pulls the reader through the end as the narrator reaches an end to her madness. Charlotte Gilman s manipulation of language and syntax in her prose is crucial to the overall effect of the story. What the reader is presented is a story that uses language and syntax to portray a woman s changing mental state. The reader experiences the narrator s deteriorating mental state as she succumbs to her condition and eventually loses her sanity.

The stories ‘Wunderkind’ by Carson McCullers and ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ by Charolotte Gilman

In the early twentieth century a writer’s work usually represented one’s surroundings. In the stories ‘Wunderkind’; by Carson McCullers and ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’; by Charolotte Gilman, there are examples of the immediate surroundings taking affect in their writings. Both writers prove a point, conditions and attitudes presented in the early 20th century influenced and often extinguished the potential or imagination of the artist. In most cases a person becomes what his/her surroundings let them. A person’s family, friends, neighborhood and every day things will shape and mold one’s morals and character.

In ‘The Yellow Wallpaper,’; the narrator is also the author. Charolotte Gilman writes about her struggle with insanity. Her imagination slowly extinguished and dwindled because of attitudes present in this era. The story takes place in a house in the countryside. John’s plan was to get his wife away from all the hustle and bustle and have her relax. John, a doctor, along with another doctor, gave John’s wife a prescription of exercise, rest and absolutely no writing. They believed (along with society) that this was the best thing for people suffering from insanity.

John never came out and said she was going insane. He just said she was stressed and needed rest. He actually told her not to think about her condition; it would only make things worse. So for the few weeks they were on vacation, she tried to follow his prescription except for when she would secretly write. It was a favorite passion of hers that gave her a break from society’s daily stresses. On a daily basis she was stuck in her house with no one to talk to because John would go to town for days at a time. She wasn’t allowed to take care of her baby. She couldn’t even talk to people about how she felt.

In this time period women didn’t have as much say as they do now. Both her brother and her husband told her that this was the best thing for her recovery. She couldn’t say no when her husband was telling her not to write. I believe that because of her surroundings which her husband put her in she went insane much faster. The fact that she couldn’t write and didn’t really have anyone to talk to drove her to start hallucinating about the women in the wall. The wallpaper in the room became one of her fetishes. ‘There are things in the wallpaper that nobody knows about but me, or ever will. ;(Narrator, 534)

It wasn’t just a small fetish at the end, but a large portion of her day would be spent contemplating about the walls, colors, and designs. She even believed she could smell the wallpaper, throughout the whole house and even in her hair. Her mind started comprehending herself as the woman in the wallpaper. The woman was stuck in the wall night after night just like her being stuck in the house. ‘The faint figure behind seemed to shake the pattern, just as if she wanted to get out,’; (Narrator 534). Which was exactly what she wanted. She couldn’t express herself in the ways she wanted to.

She didn’t have any way of venting her emotions; writing was her escape. Most of the time she was by herself and didn’t have anyone to talk to, and when her husband was there she couldn’t really talk to him about all the things she wanted to. That’s the symbolism behind the figure in the wallpaper. Both she and the figure in the wall wanted to escape, but neither could. She created this hallucination, in the sense that it was herself, someone she could relate to. She tore up her room during what seemed to be a breakdown. The wall paper was ripped off the walls in numerous spots.

In her own mind she was trying to free herself and her other self in the wall. I can’t say exactly what she was thinking, but I’m guessing when the figure in the wall was free, so was she. Many times her husband stayed in town for long periods of time, which gave her plenty of time to do nothing. She couldn’t write because of John. Writing is a great way to channel your feelings and thoughts. She was stuck in a lonely house with a mental disability. It seemed to get worse on a daily basis and she couldn’t really talk to anybody about how she was feeling. This was a feeding ground for the disease (insanity) to get worse.

Her potential was crushed every day she wasn’t allowed to write, along with the fact she couldn’t leave the house or even talk to her friends. Your potential can only grow if you nourish it and give it what it needs. If you neglect it, it will slowly diminish. In this case, she needed an environment that she could use her writing skills and interact and communicate with others. Because of John crushing her potential, two serious things could result. (along with others) She could lose some of her skills over time and it could also make her extremely unhappy and probably depressed.

When you have a love for something and you can’t do it, that creates inner turmoil, which doesn’t help anybody. These are only a few of the results of suppressing your artistic ability. This is only one person, that attitudes during the 20th century extinguished her potential. Think about the thousands of lives that also had this happen to them, because of societal views. This time period didn’t have much knowledge about insanity or how to treat it. This is why the author, along with many others, have had their artistic skills smothered because of attitudes present in the past and even today’s society.

In today’s day and age we know all the symptoms and how to treat it. This is partly due to Charolotte Gilman and her struggle. The doctor that had treated her has actually changed his method of trying to cure insanity. It’s a known fact now that interaction with others and demonstrating artistic skills help in cases like these. She was isolated and couldn’t express herself to others. When she tried to tell John that she was better in her body aspect but not in her mind he cut her off and told her never to speak like that again. ‘So of course I said no more on that score, and we went to sleep before long’; (Narrator 535).

She knew what helped her and what hurt her. She said a few times that she wanted to go home. The narrator even thought to herself ‘I think sometimes that if I was only well enough to write a little it would relieve the press of ideas and rest me’; (Narrator 531). Today’s cures come from listening to patents and seeing what works and what doesn’t. If they used these methods back then there would be a good chance she would have never started hallucinating and her room would still have yellow wallpaper. In the end she couldn’t cope with her mental problems.

She couldn’t cope with being enslaved in the yellow room that seemed so much like a prison to her. ‘I’ve got out at last, said I,’; in spite of you and Jane. And I’ve pulled off most of the paper, so you can’t put me back’;(540). In the story ‘Wonderkind’; a teacher works with a brilliant piano student who is overcome by societal forces. She’s a young girl that plays the piano with a great skill. Her skill is to play with her heart and her emotions. Her teacher, Misater Bilderbach was an older man that strived to see her play to the best of her ability.

Carson McCullers does a fantastic job when writing this story. Her descriptions of the characters and their surroundings and even feelings make you feel like you are actually there. When the young girl plays the piano with her emotions she plays great. This story involves a lot of depicting of emotion through peoples hands. Just like when you’re reading the story, if you try to use your emotions you understand it that much better. Carson McCullers uses small descriptions to describe big things. ‘She could see her fingers sinking into a blur of piano keys’; said Bienchen (1842).

This is one of the first signs that she is not all there. She can still play the same music but the feeling she put in to it is starting to go astray. Whenever the author describes someone’s hands, he is also describing their emotion at that time. In this story the author uses the characters’ hands to describe their emotions and personality. ‘Her hands still twitching unconsciously to the motions of the fugue, closed over her bony knees. Tired she was’;(author, 1844). This is showing just how much emotion she is putting in to playing the piano. Her energy was gone.

The more she worked with Mr. Bilderbach the more her feelings of self consciousness came out. ‘But today she felt that she would notice him from the corner of her eye and be disturbed’; (Bienchen 1849). She started to care less about herself and her piano skills and more about Misater Bilderbach would be thinking. At this time the author starts to show her becoming timid. She had a fear of being rejected or not being good enough for what Misater Bilderbach. As time went on she became more and more affected by this self conscious disease. ‘She felt that the marrow’s of her bones were hollow and there was no blood left in her.

Her heart that had been springing against her chest all afternoon felt suddenly dead. She saw it gray and limp and shriveled at the edges like an oyster. ‘; (Bienchen 1851) This girl isn’t there for herself any more. She ended up grabbing all of her books and supplies and walked out. There is a connection between Bienchen and Carson McCullers. These two are very much like each other. No matter what you do, if you do it with your emotion you do it better. Carson McCullers writes about a young girl that has a fantastic talent. Carson McCullers also was a great pianist at a young age.

The reason that Carson McCullers could describe this story so well is because he experienced somewhat of the same life as her character did. At one point in both these authors lives, conditions or attitudes present in the early 20th century influenced and extinguished their potential or imagination of their lives. These books were important because they taught others about problems in society that needed to be changed. The Yellow Wall Paper influenced and extinguished their potential or imagination of their lives. These books were important because they taught others about problems in society that needed to be changed.

The Yellow Wallpaper: Male Opression of Women in Society

Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper is a commentary on themale oppression of women in a patriarchal society. However, the story itselfpresents an interesting look at one woman’s struggle to deal with both physicaland mental confinement. This theme is particularly thought-provoking when readin today’s context where individual freedom is one of our most cherished rights. This analysis will focus on two primary issues: 1) the many vivid images Gilmanuses to illustrate the physical and symbolic confinement the narrator enduresduring her illness; and 2) the overall effect of, and her reaction to, thisconfinement.

The Yellow Wallpaper begins with the narrator’s description of thephysically confining elements surrounding her. The story is cast in an isolatedhereditary estate, set back from the road and located three miles from town. The property boasts protective hedges that surround the garden, walls thatsurround the estate, and locked gates which guarantee seclusion. Even theconnecting garden represents confinement, with box-bordered paths and grape-covered arbors. This isolation motif continues within the mansion itself.

Although she preferred the downstairs room with roses all over the windows thatopened on the piazza, the narrator finds herself relegated to an out of the waydungeon-like nursery on the second floor, appropriately equipped with “rings andthings” in the walls. Windows in each direction provide glimpses of the garden,arbors, bushes, and trees. The bay is visible, as is a private wharf thatadjoins the estate. These views reinforce isolationism; they can be seen fromthe room, but not touched or experienced. There is a gate at the head of thestairs, presumably to keep the children contained in their play area.

Additionally, the bed is immovable as it has been nailed to the floor. It ishere that the narrator secretly describes her slow decent into madness. Although the physical confinement drains the narrator’s strength and will,the mental and emotional confinement symbolized in the story play an importantrole in her ultimate fall into dementia. By being forced to be her own company,she is confined within her mind. Likewise, part of the narrator’s mentalconfinement stems from her recognition of her physical confinement. Thedepression the narrator has experienced associated with child bearing ismentally confining as well.

Specifically, she cannot control her emotions ormanage her guilt over her inability to care for her child. These structures ofconfinement contribute to the rapid degeneration of her faculties. As the wife of a prominent physician in the late nineteenth century, thenarrator’s assumption of the typical female role illustrates one aspect of thesymbolic confinement present within both the story and the society. She issubservient and deferential to her husband John who enjoys the powertraditionally associated with his sex and additional authority afforded him byhis status as a doctor.

Jean Kennard notes, “By keeping her underemployed andisolated, John effectively ensures his wife’s dependence on him” (81). John’scontrol over his wife is typical of the control most men had over women in thelate nineteenth century. He decides everything on her behalf, including whatroom she will stay in and who she will be allowed to see. He diagnoses herpostpartum depression as a “temporary nervous depression–a slight hystericaltendency” and in doing so, diminishes her complaints and demeans herindividuality.

His prescribed treatment is worse than the disease; every houris scheduled, she is forbidden to write, told what to think, and prohibited fromacting as mother to her child. John’s behavior illustrates his covert efforts to control his wife aswell. He looks to the narrator’s brother, who is also a physician, to validatehis diagnosis and prescribed cure, making it even more difficult for thenarrator to challenge the prescription herself. He repeatedly diminishes her bylaughing at her and not taking her grievances seriously.

The narrator complains”John does not know how much I really suffer. He knows there is no reason tosuffer, and that satisfies him. ” John’s contempt for his wife’s ideas isblatant; he refers to her as a “little girl,” and when she requests that she bemoved to a different room downstairs, he “took [her] in his arms and called[her] a blessed little goose, and said he would go down to the cellar, if [she]wished, and have it whitewashed into the bargain. ” That he is only willing tomove her into the basement, instead of allowing her a room of her choice,epitomizes his domineering personality.

As the woman descends into madness, she notices that the pattern in thewallpaper “becomes bars” in the moonlight and that “the woman behind it is asplain as can be. ” Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar assert that the woman behindthe wallpaper is the narrator’s doppelg nger (10). This woman is symbolic of thenarrator’s own confinement by the patriarchal society she lives in. Moreover,we see that the wallpaper is a metaphor of her fractured mental state. Shedescribes the chaotic pattern that will follow “. . . the lame uncertain curvesfor a little distance. . . uddenly committing suicide–plunging off atoutrageous angles, destroying themselves in unheard of contradictions,” alludingto her own, and society’s, eventual destruction in the absence of enlightenedchange.

Furthermore, the narrator acknowledges that she is representative ofmost women of her time with the statement “I think there are a great many women[behind the paper]. ” The effect of John’s oppression on the narrator is severe. At theclimax of her insanity she writes that she can see the woman from behind thewallpaper pattern “out of every one of my windows! The narrator continues:It is the same woman, I know, for she is always creeping, and most women donot creep by daylight. I see her on that long road under the trees, creepingalong, and when a carriage comes she hides under the blackberry vines.

I don’tblame her a bit. It must be very humiliating to be caught creeping by daylight! That evening the narrator noticed the woman in the pattern begin to crawl andshake the wallpaper in an effort to break free from it, just as she would liketo break free from the confines and restrictions imposed on her by society andher husband John.

In her diary she describes helping the woman tear down thepaper: “I pulled and she shook, I shook and she pulled . . . .” Most of thepaper was removed the next day while the narrator watched many women creepingaround in the street. At the end of the story the narrator has surprised John,who has come home from work to find her creeping around the room. She proclaims”I’ve got out at last, in spite of you and Jane. And I’ve pulled off most ofthe paper, so you can’t put me back! ” Although the reader might pity the narrator’s inability to challengeJohn’s authority, one must view the events of the story within the context ofthe 1860’s.

At this time, socitey would not tolerate such assertiveness fromwomen. Moreover, the tragic story ends with a paradox. By definition, one whois mentally ill is not healthy. However, the narrator finds freedom, andapparently health, by rejecting an insane society and loosing her identity tothe wallpaper. In contrast, the reader concludes the narrator is now confinedby her insanity, and cannot be free. Works CitedGilman, Charlotte Perkins. “The Yellow Wallpaper. ”

English 2307. Comp. JaneBell. n. p. , c. 1996. 3-7. Kennard, Jean. Convention Coverage or How to Read Your Own Life. “Charlotte Perkins Gilman: The Woman and Her Work. Ed. Sheryl Meyering. Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1989. 75-94. The Yellow Wallpaper: Male Opression of Women in Society The Yellow Wallpaper: Male Opression of Women in Society Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper is a commentary on themale oppression of women in a patriarchal society. However, the story itselfpresents an interesting look at one woman’s struggle to deal with both physicaland mental confinement.

This theme is particularly thought-provoking when readin today’s context where individual freedom is one of our most cherished rights. This analysis will focus on two primary issues: 1) the many vivid images Gilmanuses to illustrate the physical and symbolic confinement the narrator enduresduring her illness; and 2) the overall effect of, and her reaction to, thisconfinement. The Yellow Wallpaper begins with the narrator’s description of thephysically confining elements surrounding her. The story is cast in an isolatedhereditary estate, set back from the road and located three miles from town.

The property boasts protective hedges that surround the garden, walls thatsurround the estate, and locked gates which guarantee seclusion. Even theconnecting garden represents confinement, with box-bordered paths and grape-covered arbors. This isolation motif continues within the mansion itself. Although she preferred the downstairs room with roses all over the windows thatopened on the piazza, the narrator finds herself relegated to an out of the waydungeon-like nursery on the second floor, appropriately equipped with “rings andthings” in the walls.

Windows in each direction provide glimpses of the garden,arbors, bushes, and trees. The bay is visible, as is a private wharf thatadjoins the estate. These views reinforce isolationism; they can be seen fromthe room, but not touched or experienced. There is a gate at the head of thestairs, presumably to keep the children contained in their play area. Additionally, the bed is immovable as it has been nailed to the floor. It ishere that the narrator secretly describes her slow decent into madness.

Although the physical confinement drains the narrator’s strength and will,the mental and emotional confinement symbolized in the story play an importantrole in her ultimate fall into dementia. By being forced to be her own company,she is confined within her mind. Likewise, part of the narrator’s mentalconfinement stems from her recognition of her physical confinement. Thedepression the narrator has experienced associated with child bearing ismentally confining as well. Specifically, she cannot control her emotions ormanage her guilt over her inability to care for her child.

These structures ofconfinement contribute to the rapid degeneration of her faculties. As the wife of a prominent physician in the late nineteenth century, thenarrator’s assumption of the typical female role illustrates one aspect of thesymbolic confinement present within both the story and the society. She issubservient and deferential to her husband John who enjoys the powertraditionally associated with his sex and additional authority afforded him byhis status as a doctor. Jean Kennard notes, “By keeping her underemployed andisolated, John effectively ensures his wife’s dependence on him” (81).

John’scontrol over his wife is typical of the control most men had over women in thelate nineteenth century. He decides everything on her behalf, including whatroom she will stay in and who she will be allowed to see. He diagnoses herpostpartum depression as a “temporary nervous depression–a slight hystericaltendency” and in doing so, diminishes her complaints and demeans herindividuality. His prescribed treatment is worse than the disease; every houris scheduled, she is forbidden to write, told what to think, and prohibited fromacting as mother to her child.

John’s behavior illustrates his covert efforts to control his wife aswell. He looks to the narrator’s brother, who is also a physician, to validatehis diagnosis and prescribed cure, making it even more difficult for thenarrator to challenge the prescription herself. He repeatedly diminishes her bylaughing at her and not taking her grievances seriously. The narrator complains”John does not know how much I really suffer. He knows there is no reason tosuffer, and that satisfies him. John’s contempt for his wife’s ideas isblatant; he refers to her as a “little girl,” and when she requests that she bemoved to a different room downstairs, he “took [her] in his arms and called[her] a blessed little goose, and said he would go down to the cellar, if [she]wished, and have it whitewashed into the bargain. ” That he is only willing tomove her into the basement, instead of allowing her a room of her choice,epitomizes his domineering personality. As the woman descends into madness, she notices that the pattern in thewallpaper “becomes bars” in the moonlight and that “the woman behind it is asplain as can be. Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar assert that the woman behindthe wallpaper is the narrator’s doppelg nger (10). This woman is symbolic of thenarrator’s own confinement by the patriarchal society she lives in. Moreover,we see that the wallpaper is a metaphor of her fractured mental state. Shedescribes the chaotic pattern that will follow “. . . the lame uncertain curvesfor a little distance. . . suddenly committing suicide–plunging off atoutrageous angles, destroying themselves in unheard of contradictions,” alludingto her own, and society’s, eventual destruction in the absence of enlightenedchange.

Furthermore, the narrator acknowledges that she is representative ofmost women of her time with the statement “I think there are a great many women[behind the paper]. ” The effect of John’s oppression on the narrator is severe. At theclimax of her insanity she writes that she can see the woman from behind thewallpaper pattern “out of every one of my windows! ” The narrator continues:It is the same woman, I know, for she is always creeping, and most women donot creep by daylight. I see her on that long road under the trees, creepingalong, and when a carriage comes she hides under the blackberry vines.

I don’tblame her a bit. It must be very humiliating to be caught creeping by daylight! That evening the narrator noticed the woman in the pattern begin to crawl andshake the wallpaper in an effort to break free from it, just as she would liketo break free from the confines and restrictions imposed on her by society andher husband John. In her diary she describes helping the woman tear down thepaper: “I pulled and she shook, I shook and she pulled . . . .” Most of thepaper was removed the next day while the narrator watched many women creepingaround in the street.

At the end of the story the narrator has surprised John,who has come home from work to find her creeping around the room. She proclaims”I’ve got out at last, in spite of you and Jane. And I’ve pulled off most ofthe paper, so you can’t put me back! ” Although the reader might pity the narrator’s inability to challengeJohn’s authority, one must view the events of the story within the context ofthe 1860’s. At this time, socitey would not tolerate such assertiveness fromwomen. Moreover, the tragic story ends with a paradox.

By definition, one whois mentally ill is not healthy. However, the narrator finds freedom, andapparently health, by rejecting an insane society and loosing her identity tothe wallpaper. In contrast, the reader concludes the narrator is now confinedby her insanity, and cannot be free. Works CitedGilman, Charlotte Perkins. “The Yellow Wallpaper. ” English 2307. Comp. JaneBell. n. p. , c. 1996. 3-7. Kennard, Jean. “Convention Coverage or How to Read Your Own Life. “Charlotte Perkins Gilman: The Woman and Her Work. Ed. Sheryl Meyering. Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1989. 75-94.