Stress In The Yellow Wallpaper, By Charlotte Perkins Gilman

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What drives one to insanity? There are, of course, many possibilities. Stress, for one, could do it. Regret is another that has lead down that treacherous path. In the case of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper”, the protagonist’s root cause of insanity is not expressed openly, but when observed in more detail, it becomes apparent. The unnamed female protagonist of this short story initially seems to have little to no impaired cognitive function. She writes very clearly and understandably. The reader soon finds out, however, that she has been suffering from an illness recently, and that she has gone on a sort of holiday in order to rest and recuperate. However, this holiday becomes quite the reverse for Gilman’s protagonist…show more content…
Throughout the text, the reader clearly sees that John has approached the near imprisonment of his wife with very tender and caring words and actions. He always refers to his “little gooses (Charters 228), his darling, and his dear, and he reads her bed time stories. However, the protagonist, as well as the reader, soon begin to see through this act. John may act as if he simply just cares about his wife, and that is why he is putting her through this. But why then does he not listen when she says that she feels worse rather than better? (Charters 232). Because he is not doing it for her at all. He is far more concerned for his career. He is a physician after all, and to have a mentally and physically unstable wife would be tumultuous for his future in that vocation. So he must lock her away in this vacation, away from civilization, so that no one will know. It seems that the protagonist realizes her husbands motives early on, but she is unwilling to believe what she fears is true. She willingly suspends her disbelief of her husband. She says things such as, “Dear John! He loves me very dearly, and hates to have me sick” (Charters 231). In these statements she is not trying to communicate an idea to a reader, but rather attempting desperately to convince herself of the idea. Ultimately she succeeds, and this leads to her final mental collapse. Her willing suspension of disbelief causes her to
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