The Path into Madness in The Yellow Wallpaper

The Path into Madness in The Yellow Wallpaper

Length: 1089 words (3.1 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

The Path into Madness in The Yellow Wallpaper

    In the late 1800's/early 1900's, when Charlotte Perkins Gilman experienced her episode of "temporary nervous depression" (Gilman 885), and wrote her autobiographical short story, "The Yellow Wallpaper," the workings of the mind were mysteries that few medical people attempted to investigate. A patient who was poor and ill-educated and exhibiting signs of mental disorder was institutionalized -- ala Bedlam. The patient who was rich, educated, and/or from a "good family" was called eccentric and given a prescription for complete mental rest and controlled physical exercise combined with the consumption of phosphorus enriched tonics. This regimen was to be followed in an environment that allowed the patient to ingest large quantities of clean fresh air (Gilman 885, 886). In her retrospective, the author was able to present a frighteningly candid view of the ineffectiveness of this last pattern of treatment.


      Ms. Gilman's heroine's adventure into madness started with an onset of post partum depression. This fairly common side effect of childbirth comes at the time in her life when the woman (according to society) is supposed to be her happiest, most satisfied self. However, with her mind suffering from the effects of her body's frantic attempt to realign its chemical components into a balanced state, the new mother is confronted by moods that are the antithesis of the euphoria she is told she should be feeling. This juxtaposition of expected and experienced emotions can create tremendous guilt in a woman, even a very strong woman. To mitigate this guilt, the mind can develop a psychosis, such as delusional disorder. Ms. Gilman was very perceptive in looking at he...

... middle of paper ...

... this case -- unenlightened) treatment, progressing into dementia. And she created this scenario years, if not decades, before medical science understood the relationship between the various parts of her heroine's -- and her own -- path into madness.


Works Cited

Danford, Darla Erhard. "Pica and Nutrition." Annual Review of Nutrition Issue 2 (1982): 303 - 322.

Decker, Chris J., MD, FRSCS. "Pica in the Mentally Handicapped: A 15 - Year Surgical Perspective." Canadian Journal of Surgery 36.6 (1993): 551 - 554.

DSM - IV Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Fourth edition. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association, 1994. 290 - 301.

Gilmore, Charlotte Perkins. "The Yellow Wallpaper." Being and Becoming. Anne Mills King, and Sandra Kurtinitis editors. New York, NY: McGraw - Hill Publishing Company, 1987. 886 - 892.


Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Shades of Madness and Insanity in Yellow Wallpaper, A Worn Path, and Mulatto

- Varying Shades of Insanity in Yellow Wallpaper, A Worn Path, and Mulatto      The human psyche is a very complex, intricate thing. Why does one person act one way, while another acts completely differently. I have read three stories that have given me insight on this subject. They are "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, "A Worn Path" by Eudora Welty, and Mulatto by Langston Hughes. In each of these stories, the main character exhibits a peculiar personality trait, but each stems from a different experience....   [tags: Yellow Wallpaper essays]

Free Essays
1948 words (5.6 pages)

The Yellow Wallpaper By Dr. John

- The Yellow Wallpaper This story demonstrates a prime example of a patriarchal society in which the degree of influence by Dr. John in the decisions of the marriage, which ends up in his wife’s dementia. In the story right after Jane gave birth to her child she gets into a deep depression so her husband and her brother, two respected physicians ordered her rest. The house where they live is away from town and she only had contact with her husband and her nurse. "[The house] is quite alone standing well back from the road, quite three miles from the village....   [tags: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper]

Strong Essays
737 words (2.1 pages)

The Yellow Wallpaper By Charlotte Perkins Gilman

- This paper will look at the many symbols hidden in “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. This is important to prove that Gilman hid many hints implying that “The Yellow Wallpaper” is not merely a gothic story but a story making a connection between sexual roles put down by men and insanity. First of all, the setting of the story is significant. The house the protagonist and John rented has barred windows, hedges, walls, and gates that lock. These all suggest the wife’s confinement to the home....   [tags: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper]

Strong Essays
1001 words (2.9 pages)

Charlotte Gilman 's The Yellow Wallpaper

- It is not always easy to see the ties that bind us. Many people feel they are restrained some way in their everyday life. Their job, their families, the society around them, all of this holds them back. It is up to the individual to decide how to break out of their captivity. In Charlotte Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper, Jane’s captivity is both physical and mental, and her struggle to break this physical captivity only reinforces her mental captivity. Her inability to recognize both of these causes her only to fall further into captivity, as her mental stability fractures....   [tags: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper]

Strong Essays
1030 words (2.9 pages)

Social Repression in The Yellow Wallpaper

- Social Repression in The Yellow Wallpaper   “The Yellow Wallpaper” is a symbolic tale of one woman’s struggle to break free from her mental prison.  Charlotte Perkins Gilman shows the reader how quickly insanity takes hold when a person is taken out of context and completely isolated from the rest of the world.  The narrator is a depressed woman who cannot handle being alone and retreats into her own delusions as opposed to accepting her reality.  This mental prison is a symbol for the actual repression of women’s rights in society and we see the consequences when a woman tries to free herself from this social slavery.                The story unfolds as the nameless narrator’s condi...   [tags: Yellow Wallpaper essays]

Strong Essays
1269 words (3.6 pages)

Rewriting The Yellow Wallpaper

- Rewriting  "The Yellow Wallpaper"        Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Charlotte Perkins Gilman rank as two of the most outstanding champions of women's rights who were active during the nineteenth century. Both professed a deep and personal faith and both were wise enough and secure enough to develop their own ideas and relationship with their creator. In 1895 Stanton published The Woman's Bible, her personal assault on organized religion's strangle-hold on the women of the world. Gilman published her short story "The Yellow Wallpaper" in 1892....   [tags: The Yellow Wallpaper Essays]

Strong Essays
2239 words (6.4 pages)

Imprisoned by Society in The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

- The Yellow Wallpaper: Imprisoned by Society Charlotte Perkins Gilman's, "The Yellow Wallpaper" is the story of a woman's descent into madness as the result of being isolated as a form of "treatment" when suffering from postpartum depression. On a larger scale, Gilman is also telling the story of how women were kept prisoners by the confines of the society of her time and the penalties these women incurred when they attempted to break free from these confines. In the beginning of the story, the narrator, whose name is never divulged, has been brought to an isolated country estate in order to recuperate from "a slight hysterical tendency" by her husband, John, who is also a physician...   [tags: The Yellow Wallpaper Essays]

Strong Essays
1079 words (3.1 pages)

The Bedroom in The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

- The Yellow Wallpaper:  The Bedroom  The bedroom is an overvalued fetish object that nevertheless threatens to reveal what it covers over. John's time is spent formulating the bedroom in a way that conceals his associations of anxiety and desire with the female body, but also re-introduces them. The bedroom's exterior, its surface, and its outer system of locks, mask a hidden interior that presumably contains a mystery--and a dangerous one. The bedroom in "The Yellow Wallpaper" generates this tension between the desire to know and the fear of knowing: on one hand, the enigma of the bedroom invites curiosity and beckons us towards discovery; on the other hand, its over- determined organiza...   [tags: The Yellow Wallpaper Essays]

Free Essays
1109 words (3.2 pages)

John as Role Model for Husbands in The Yellow Wallpaper

- Modern day feminists' enjoy looking into the past to find examples of female oppression. This tactic is employed in the hopes of demonstrating that oppression of their sex by the evil male populous has been going on for decades. One such work that is cited by feminists to showcase just how terrible women were treated in the first part of the twentieth century is Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper." Feminists' are quick to point out that the main character in this story is driven down the path of insanity by her uncaring husband....   [tags: The Yellow Wallpaper Essays]

Strong Essays
1387 words (4 pages)

Essay on Analysis Of The Book ' The Yellow Wall '

- Nfuenucn what is madness. A sickness in the mind, a result of an incident, actions unapproved of by others, or a label stuck on by the judgement of oneself, is it real or is it all in the head. The authors of The Yellow Wall-Paper, A Good Man Is Hard to Find, The Lottery, Suffer the Little Children, and The Use of Force all portray different ways one could be claimed as crazy, or mad. Never in any of the stories does the author say right out to the reader that the character is crazy, yet their actions hint it....   [tags: Mind, Thought, The Yellow Wallpaper, Psychology]

Strong Essays
1820 words (5.2 pages)