Confinement: "The Yellow Wallpaper"

Confinement: "The Yellow Wallpaper"

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The realistic period is during that of the Civil War and Reconstruction, from 1855 to 1914. Realism shies away from the Romantic period; there is no specific way of interpreting a story. Instead, readers are given creative accountability and allowed the opportunity to construct an ending from the information that is given to them. Opposing Romantic elements, Realism describes reality bluntly and objectively. It strives to depict everyday characters to draw in readers through their ability to see themselves through the text. During the time of 1892, the realistic period existed for approximately thirty-seven years. At this time, Charlotte Perkin Gilman’s “The Yellow Wall-paper” was written. The story seems to twist Realism’s depiction of everyday characters by having readers connect with the mental instability of the narrator. Gilman’s “The Yellow Wall-paper” depicts the oppression faced by women of the nineteenth century through the expression of a psychiatric breakdown that resulted from the protagonist’s social, physical, and mental entrapment.
In the nineteenth century, those who suffered with depression, anxiety, excitability, and/or inexplicable somatic complaints were diagnosed with hysteria. Hysteria occurred when there was a medical problem with no physical causation. Because hysteria occurred primarily in women, it was assumed to be restricted as a feminine predicament. In earlier centuries, the uterus was supposed as the cause of a woman’s mental or emotional stress. The word hysteria derives from the Greek word, hysteron, meaning uterus. When a woman experienced hysteria, it was due to her “wandering uterus.” In order for the female patient to be rehabilitated, she must be treated sympathetically in a restful and hygi...


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...nt from the patriarchal society. Women are confined within predisposed roles that they are expected to abide by. Such expectations can lead to depression or anxiety when the expectancies are not met. This then increases the number of female patients within a psychiatric institution. Gilman’s “The Yellow Wall-paper” discloses that it is not the women at fault. Instead, it is the false labeling, patriarchy, and confinement that cause women to lose their sanity.



Works Cited

Abrams, M. H. A Glossary of Literary Terms. NY: Harcourt Brace, 1999. Print.
Barlow, David H., and V. M. Durand. "Chapter 1: Abnormal Behavior in Historical Context." Abnormal Psychology: An Integrative Approach. 7th ed. N.p.: n.p., n.d. N. pag. Print.
Gilman, Charlotte P. "The Yellow Wall-paper." The Norton Anthology of American Literature. 7th ed. New York: W.W. Norton, 2008. 1682-695. Print.

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