The Yellow Wallpaper from the Point of View of a Doctor's Wife

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The Yellow Wallpaper from the Point of View of a Doctor's Wife "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, is a story told from the first person point of view of a doctor's wife who has nervous condition. The first person standpoint gives the reader access only to the woman’s thoughts, and thus, is limited. The limited viewpoint of this story helps the reader to experience a feeling of isolation, just as the wife feels throughout the story. The point of view is also limited in that the story takes places in the present, and as a result the wife has no benefit of hindsight, and is never able to actually see that the men in her life are part of the reason she never gets well. This paper will discuss how Gilman’s choice of point of view helps communicate the central theme of the story- that women of the time were viewed as being subordinate to men. Also, the paper will discuss how ignoring oneself and one’s desires is self-destructive, as seen throughout the story as the woman’s condition worsens while she is in isolation, in the room with the yellow wallpaper, and her at the same time as her thoughts are being oppressed by her husband and brother. In the story, the narrator is forced to tell her story through a secret correspondence with the reader since her husband forbids her to write and would “meet [her] with heavy opposition” should he find her doing so (390). The woman’s secret correspondence with the reader is yet another example of the limited viewpoint, for no one else is ever around to comment or give their thoughts on what is occurring. The limited perspective the reader sees through her narration plays an essential role in helping the reader understand the theme by showing the woman’s place in the world. At ... ... middle of paper ... ... goal was to become "such a help to John" (392). She has discovered the one place where she can have supreme control, and nothing will challenge her, apart from her own mind. But she has zero capability left to even interact normally with the outer physical world, and so it is although she isn’t even there. Throughout the story, the reader is called to trust the narrator although it is clear she is going crazy, for she is the only telling the story. Gilman is able to develop the theme through this character’s point of view by showing that the narrator has no choice in the world in which she lives-- she must obey the men in her life above all else. If Gilman chose any other perspective, the story would not have been able to portray the woman’s oppression as well, because the reader would not have been able to see into her mind as it slipped away well into insanity.

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