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A Brief on Gilman's 'The Yellow Wallpaper'

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The plot of “The Yellow Wallpaper” comes from a moderation of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s personal experience. In 1887, just two years after the birth of her first child, Dr. Silas Weir Mitchell diagnosed Gilman with neurasthenia, an emotional disorder characterized by fatigue and depression. Mitchell decided that the best prescription would be a “rest cure”. Mitchell encouraged Gilman to “Live a domestic life as far as possible,” to “have two hours’ intellectual life each day,” and to “never touch a pen, brush or pencil again,”(Gilman 20) as long as she lived. After three months of isolation, abiding by Dr. Mitchell’s orders, Gilman realized she was becoming insane. She abandoned Dr. Mitchell’s advice and, after recovering, she wrote an exaggerated version of her experience.
Written in 1892, “The Yellow Wallpaper” reflects the social mindset of United States’ citizens just after the Civil War. This was a time of cultural and economical growth, expansion, and development. Women received little political and social freedom; their actions were greatly influenced by their husbands’ wills. The wallpaper’s chaotic pattern represents the metaphorical bars that Jane feels trapped in as a woman. The woman in the paper represents Jane trying to escape and become free from the reigns of her husband. Women were not expected to have a career or a “public life;” instead, they were expected to focus on the upkeep of home and family. People in this time lived ...
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