Attempts to Communicate in The Yellow Wallpaper
Human nature is complex. Its requirements to remain healthy supersede those basic needs of food, shelter, and clothing. It is human to desire attention, companionship, to communicate heart-felt sentiments, and to be understood. In order to acquire self-esteem and to battle loneliness, one naturally searches to have these desires satisfied. Charlotte Perkins Gilman vividly illustrates these human aspirations in The Yellow Wallpaper. Subsequently she paints a horrific picture of someone who fails in her quest. These elements of this short story render it to be, for any reader who has experienced these hungers, an intensely personal experience.
The heroine of this tale knows that she is not well, and the fact that medical authorities contradict her self-diagnosis frustrates her. She concedes that her husband should be more knowledgeable than her about her condition. This undermines her self-confidence in being able to evaluate herself.
"If a physician of high standing, and one's own husband, assures friends and relatives that there is really nothing the matter with one but temporarily nervous depression - a slight hysterical tendency - what is one to do?"
Another acceptable title for this short story could be "John says". Many of her feelings and much of her behavior are reactions to what John says. Her attempts to assuage her anxiety generally meet opposition by her husband. She offers suggestions to remedy her condition:
"- But John says the very worst thing I can do is to think about my condition, and I confess it always makes me feel bad."
She expresses her uneasiness about the house:
"...but he said...
... middle of paper ...
... more careful!
Did not that sound innocent? But I know she was studying that pattern, and I am determined that nobody shall find it out but myself!"
And she is prepared to protect her world even if it requires resorting to violence:
"But I am here, and no person touches this paper but me, - not alive!"
The Yellow Wallpaper is poignant. The heroine is in desperate need of attention, a need that is never adequately met. Although the dramatization of her development may appear extreme, considering the fact that she probably had a preexisting condition of mental instability permits the outcome to be acceptable. Although the average reader may not be able to relate to the demise of the heroine, most can understand the frustration and anxiety which accompany restrictions, the feeling of not being understood, insecurities and loneliness.
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