What Is The Theme Of Mental Illness In The Yellow Wallpaper

1700 Words7 Pages
Throughout Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story “The Yellow Wallpaper”, there is a reoccurring theme of confinement and being over powered. The short story not only reflects Gilman’s life and struggles with mental illness, but also of having poor treatment and support from her spouse. The narrator and main character suffers through a mental illness that is only made worse from the isolation and lack of support. Gilman was using this story to voice her ideas of the importance of better treatment for the ill. In “The Yellow Wallpaper”, the nameless narrator talks of her journey through her depression treatment. She has been moved to a house where she can get fresh air and be isolated to “relax her mind”. Her husband, John, a doctor has decided…show more content…
So the time that the narrator was without any interaction could have led to the delusions – it also could have made the depression worse. “‘If you 're mentally ill when you go into segregation, you 're going to become worse invariably,’ says Fred Cohen. ‘If you 're not mentally ill, the risk of becoming mentally ill is very high from isolation. Some people dispute that, but in my experience, the people who are just so unsocialized and so psychologically fragile to begin with are deprived of any kind of social support, any kind of psychological stimulus. And they just fall apart.’” (The New Asylum)
This not only reflects how this treatment poorly effected the narrator of this story, but it also show that the lack of support from her husband could also have harmed her mental health – sending her mental illness raging over the edge to go from a simple depression to full blown
…show more content…
But nobody could climb through that pattern – it strangles so” (Gilman 1479). The narrator writes of sometimes seeing this woman out during the day, creeping around. This is most definitely a projection of how the narrator feels when she is around her husband. When he is home, she tip toes around him to appear better and normal; she tries not to upset him. She also views the paper as bars jailing in this mysterious woman; “At night in any kind of light, in twilight, candlelight, lamplight, and worst of all by moonlight, it becomes bars! The outside pattern I mean, and the woman behind it is as plain as can be” (Gilman 1477). This is another obvious projection as to how she is feeling. She is quite literally jailed in a room where the windows are barred and the bed is nailed to the floor, she is not permitted to write or work or express herself in anyway, she is also told she must remain upstairs. She is living in her own personal jail with no escape. This is why her obsession with the wallpaper is so strong; this is why she is prepared to do whatever she can to free the woman who is jailed behind the pattern of the wallpaper. She knows that she cannot be caught, so she goes to drastic measures to get her free “I have locked the door and thrown the key down
Open Document