The Unreliable Narrator of The Yellow Wallpaper, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

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In 1892 Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote a short story known as, “The Yellow Wallpaper”. The story is based on how society treated and viewed females during the late 19th century. It involves an unknown female narrator that is believed to be suffering from temporary nervous depression. The story is conveyed through a biased first person point of view because it presented through the narrators personal diary. In order to treat and cure her from this acute form of depression the narrators physician husband John prescribes her the, “rest-cure”. (Gilman) The, “rest cure” (Gilman) required the narrator, “to forgo intellectual and social stimulation and to eat and sleep indulgently”. (Scott) This meant that the narrator could not do what she loves most and that was writing. However, that did not stop the narrator because the story is conveyed through a biased first person point of view presented through the narrator’s personal diary. The unnamed narrator did not agree with this method and thought, “that congenial work, with excitement and change” (Gilman), would be a more effective cure. However, the prescribed treatment failed and the narrator experiences a dramatic change in her mental stability and begins to lose touch with reality. The reason she begins to lose touch with the real word is because every second the narrator is in that room she becomes more, “adapted to her surrounding’s”. (Scott) It’s essential to understand that as the narrator continuously loses touch with the real world she is developing a better understanding about the inner reality of her life. Through developing an increased awareness of the inner reality of her life the narrator experiences a split in her personality. The split in her personality is crucial ...

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...herself. Since the reader is only given one perspective throughout the story they are almost forced to envision the narrator as being dependable. However, the fact that Gilman conveys this story through the unknown narrator’s diary is what ultimately caused the narrator to be unreliable. Since the narrator is writing in her own diary she’s not worried about criticism or other individual’s perception. This is an essential aspect because it allowed for her to write honestly about what she felt and how she truly visualized her surroundings. If the perspective of her husband John was used the reader would not only have a completely different story, but also an entirely biased view on the unknown narrator. One of the most important factors is that her diary entries were genuine so it allowed the reader to obtain all the clues and come up with their own diagnostic.
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