Charlotte Perkins Gilman writes “The Yellow Wallpaper,” to show how women’s mental illness is addressed in the time. Women were treated as the lesser or weaker sex. Women’s mental illness was highly misunderstood and misdiagnosed. “The Yellow Wallpaper,” illustrates a feminist approach to mental disease. Gilman uses this work to reach out to others to help them understand a woman’s treacherous descent into depression and psychosis. There are many contributing factors to the narrator’s illness and it is easy to see the effect the men have on her. Women were treated very differently and often outcast if they did not meet a certain norm. Mental illness is one of the main factors men believe women are not meeting the societal norm.
Gilman writes an article, “Why I Wrote the Yellow Wallpaper,” to explain how she uses some of her own past experiences to create “The Yellow Wallpaper.” Gilman suffers from postpartum depression herself. Although there are many similarities between her own life story and the narrator of “The Yellow Wallpaper,” the work is fiction. Many authors use past experiences to begin works and then just add embellishments. Gilman underwent a treatment that isolated her, at the time it was believed that this was the treatment of choice. Through the years however, medicine has evolved, it has been proven that this is not the best treatment. Isolation often only made the illness worse. Gilman states “this wise man put me to bed and applied the rest cure,” as her treatment plan. She also explains how she was to have little social interactions. Many people do not understand treatment plans, and isolation was often one of the hardest to follow. Mental illness is a hor...
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...driven crazy and it worked,” although after reading it a few times it would be easy to believe that is the intension. Gilman was simply trying to raise awareness of women’s oppression and how men governed every aspect of their lives. In this story, the narrator is never named, however the husband is. This is a good representation of how women did not play significant roles, they are important enough to talk about or narrate, but not important enough to be named and a main character. Especially a female with a mental illness. Postpartum depression often makes women feel inadequate as a mother and when they are mistreated, those feelings are only exacerbated. Men do not experience postpartum depression which is why it has taken so long the proper treatment and physicians to understand it. Gilman does an excellent job bringing most of these points to the surface.
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