Creating Madness in The Yellow Wallpaper

Creating Madness in The Yellow Wallpaper

Length: 2767 words (7.9 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview


     As summer progresses in the story "The Yellow Wallpaper," John's treatment of the narrator as though she were a helpless docile child becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy; she sheds the skin of her adult self and gives birth to her inner child via the wallpaper. From the moment she implies she is sick, his behavior becomes more and more parental and authoritarian. Under this guise he slowly disintegrates any resemblance of an adult wife he had. At the end he's victorious because he does beget a child. Simultaneously, he's a loser because the behavior of this childlike being mirrors his own attitude toward his wife: she's defiant and assertive and runs right over him. The tables have reversed.

In the beginning of the story, John laughs at her feelings about the queerness of the estate he has rented for the next three months. He acts as if her imagination has gone wild. Clearly he does not see her as his equal but as an undeveloped being who would entertain such nonsense. John "has no patience with faith" and "he scoffs openly at any talk of things not to be felt and seen" (Gilman 178). John does not have the patience to deal with a lesser being's outlook. It takes a great deal of patience for a parent to deal with the inner workings of a child's imaginative mind.

 

John and his brother-in-law, both physicians, refuse to believe she is really sick. Instead they assume she has "a slight hysterical tendency" (178). In their eyes depression is not an illness but a symptom of being a female. John has "forbidden her to 'work'" (179). Very often parents don't believe children when they say they are sick. Adults think that children blow things out of proportion in order to get their parents' attention. His prescription for...


... middle of paper ...


...his infantile creation "had to creep over him" (191) as she escapes from the womb of the wallpaper.

 

Works Cited

Gilman, Charlotte P. "The Yellow Wallpaper." An Introduction to Literature. Ed. Sylvan Barnett, Morton Berman, and William Burton 10th ed. New York: Harper Collins, 1993. 178-91.

Golden, Catharine. "The Writing of 'The Yellow Wallpaper': A Double Palimset." Studies in Short Fiction 17 (1989): 193-201.

Hume, Beverly A. "Gilman's Interminable Grotesque: The Narrator of 'The Yellow Wallpaper.'" Studies in Short Fiction 28 (1991): 477-83.

Johnson, Gregg. "Gilman's Gothic Allegory: Rape and Re-demption in 'The Yellow Wallpaper.'" Studies in Short Fiction 26 (1989): 521-30.

King, Jeanette, and Pam Morris. "On Not Reading Between The Lines: Models of Reading in 'The Yellow Wallpaper.'" Studies in Short Fiction 26 (1989): 23-32.

 

Need Writing Help?

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

Check your paper »

Analysis Of ' The Yellow Wallpaper ' By Charlotte Perkins Gilman

- ... The narrator also creeps in the daytime like the woman in the wallpaper, she cannot do it in the night because John is home. Stereotypically, women were not allowed to be free from the domestic scope. So the only time she was free from this control is when he’s at work during the daytime. While she hides behind the patterns of wallpaper when he is home in the nighttime. The woman behind the wallpaper is also only free during the daytime also, showing her husband is also at work. So as expected, the woman in the wallpaper is definitely a replica of the narrator’s self....   [tags: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper]

Powerful Essays
1200 words (3.4 pages)

The Yellow Wallpaper

- Charlotte Perkins Gilman was born in Hartford, Connecticut on July 3, 1860. From the day of her birth, she was a woman ahead of her time. In 1890, she wrote The Yellow Wallpaper a story about a woman who was oppressed by her husband and her illness. This, Gilman’s most famous work, was written from her own experience in life. In 1884, Charlotte Perkins married Charles Walter Stetson and had one daughter. Following the birth of her daughter, she was greatly depressed and took a therapeutic 3 month trip to California....   [tags: essays research papers]

Powerful Essays
913 words (2.6 pages)

Seclusion and Oppression in Charlotte Perkins´The Yellow Wallpaper

- When first reading the gothic feminist tale, “The Yellow Wallpaper” written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, one might assume this is a short story about a women trying to save her sanity while undergoing treatment for postpartum depression. Gilman herself had suffered post-natal depression and was encouraged to undergo the “rest cure” to cure her hysteria. The treatment prescribed to Gilman resulted in her having a very similar experience as the narrator in the short story. The “perfect rest” (648), which consisted of forced bed rest and isolation sparked the inspiration for “The Yellow Wallpaper.” This story involving an unreliable narrator, became an allegory for repression of women....   [tags: Freedom, Inequality, Women]

Powerful Essays
939 words (2.7 pages)

Subtle Feminist Assertions in The Yellow Wallpaper

- Subtle Feminist Assertions in The Yellow Wallpaper Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper " was originally shunned by the American patriarchal literary powers present before the turn of the century. Despite editors' hesitation, Gilman's determination eventually led to the story's publication in New England Magazine in 1892. It was not until the early 1970's, however, that the story was adopted by the feminist literary movement and viewed as the author undoubtedly intended....   [tags: Feminism Feminist Women Criticism]

Powerful Essays
1180 words (3.4 pages)

The Path into Madness in The Yellow Wallpaper

- 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....   [tags: Yellow Wallpaper essays]

Powerful Essays
1089 words (3.1 pages)

Representations of Madness in "The Yellow Wallpaper" and "The Black Cat"

- The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is the story of a woman spiralling into madness whilst her physician husband refuses to acknowledge that she has a "real" problem. On the other hand The Black Cat by Edgar Alan Poe is about a man who is initially fond of cats however as the plot progresses he becomes an alcoholic making him moody and violent, which lead him to torture and kills the animals and eventually also his wife. In Edgar Allan Poe’s "The Black Cat," symbolism is used to show the narrator’s capacity for violence, madness, and guilt .The recurring theme present in both these stories is that the main protagonists claim that they suffer or have been taken over by a form of...   [tags: Yellow Wallpaper, Black Cat, Charlotte Perkins Gil]

Powerful Essays
632 words (1.8 pages)

The Yellow Wallpaper as a Guide To Insanity and Madness

- The Yellow Wallpaper as a Guide To Insanity    "There comes John, and I must put this away- he hates to have me write a word" (p659). As evident by the above quote, Gilman places the narrator of "The Yellow Wallpaper" as secluded as she could be; she is placed in a large house, surrounded only by her husband and by little help (Jennie), when it is unfortunately clear that her relationship with her husband is based on distance and misunderstanding: "It is so hard to talk with John about my case, because he is so wise, and because he loves me so"(p 663)....   [tags: Yellow Wallpaper essays]

Powerful Essays
727 words (2.1 pages)

Madness and Insanity in A Rose For Emily And The Yellow Wallpaper

- Insanity in A Rose For Emily And The Yellow Wallpaper         Many of the upper class women in the Victorian era were assumed to be weaker than men, prone to frailties and ‘female problems’ and unable to think for themselves, valuable only as marriage bait. The two women in Faulkner’s and Gilman’s stories are victims of such assumptions. Emily in “A Rose For Emily” and the narrator of “The Yellow Wallpaper” are driven insane because they feel trapped by the men in their lives, and they retreat into their own worlds as an escape from reality, and finally rebel in the only ways they each can find....   [tags: The Yellow Wallpaper Essays]

Powerful Essays
746 words (2.1 pages)

Insanity and Madness in A Rose For Emily and Yellow Wallpaper

- Insanity in A Rose For Emily And The Yellow Wallpaper   The women in Faulkner's and Gilman's stories are victims of male over-protectiveness.  The men that rule their lives trap Emily in "A Rose For Emily" and the narrator of "The Yellow Wallpaper". Each character must retreat into their own world as an escape from reality. Emily is destroyed by her father's over-protectiveness. He prevents her from courting anyone as "none of the young men were quite good enough for Miss Emily and such" (82)....   [tags: Yellow Wallpaper, A Rose for Emily]

Powerful Essays
969 words (2.8 pages)

Importance of Setting and Wallpaper in The Yellow Wallpaper

- Importance of Setting and Wallpaper in The Yellow Wallpaper             The Room itself represents the author’s unconscious protective cell that has encased her mind, represented by the woman, for a very long time. This cell is slowly deteriorating and losing control of her thoughts. I believe that this room is set up as a self-defense mechanism when the author herself is put into the asylum. She sets this false wall up to protect her from actually becoming insane and the longer she is in there the more the wall paper begins to deteriorate....   [tags: Yellow Wallpaper essays]

Powerful Essays
1463 words (4.2 pages)