Interpretation of John
The Yellow Wallpaper, written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman was an enigmatic read. The story is about a woman, the narrator, who is suffering with depression. John, the husband of the main character, will be the focus of this paper. Gilman wrote John’s character in such a way as to leave interpretation open to the reader. Some may perceive John as a caring, loving husband; treating his wife as men did during the era in which the story was written. John decides that his wife needs to be isolated; free of all responsibilities and stimulation. John’s wife disagrees with the decisions he has forced upon her. She feels “…that congenial work, with excitement and change…” would help her through her depressive state (Gilman 376). The narrator is told what would be best for her, what to think, and what she feels. John denies his wife of all personal choices, negating her as an individual. He dismisses her feelings throughout the entire work. A man should validate his wife; no matter the time period. My perception is that John was an emotionally distant, arrogant, and over-bearing character.
John’s arrogance becomes evident at the beginning of the story, as the narrator explains that John does not believe her to be sick, as he “…assures friends and relatives that there is really nothing the matter…” (Gilman 376). The narrator expresses to John that she would like to go visit family. John informs his wife that she is not well enough to go and that she would not be able to “…stand it…” after she got there (Gilman 381). John has taken his wife’s freedom of independent thought from her; replacing her thoughts with his own. After the narrator explained to John that she felt that she was not getting better in the solitud...
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...s wife must have been.
John may have had good intentions but he focused on what he felt was best for his wife. John stripped his wife of her freedom of self-expression, leaving her feeling empty and alone; driving her into madness. Emotional abandonment left the narrator lonely without the warmth of a companion. If she was able to stay in the room she would have chosen, she may have focused on the pleasant things surrounding her. Writing in her journal may have unencumbered her mind of troubling thoughts. Listening to her when she expressed her views would have confirmed her as an individual, building self-esteem. She was unable to confide her true feelings without being ridiculed. The narrator occupied the emptiness John produced in her with hallucinations; allowing madness to take control. Had she been validated, she would not have suffered in silence.
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