Jane's Psychological Problems in Charlotte Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper

Jane's Psychological Problems in Charlotte Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper

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Jane's Psychological Problems in Charlotte Gilman’s "The Yellow Wallpaper"


In Charlotte Gilman’s short story "The Yellow Wallpaper," Jane, the main character, is a good example of Sigmund Freud’s Studies In Hysteria. Jane suffers from symptoms such as story making and daydreaming. Jane has a nervous weakness throughout the story.

Jane is a victim of a nervous disorder of the brain called hysteria. She is aware that she suffers from a series of mental and physical disturbances. She says that she has a " temporary nervous depression: -- a slight hysterical tendency- what is one to do?"(2).

According to Freud hysteria is a nervous disorder that causes violent fits of laughter, crying, and imagination. It is a lack of self-control. Jane experiences some of these symptoms. Her imagination takes over her personality a number of times. There are three instances where her creative imagination literally takes over her personality. The first is when she is describing to the reader the so-called nursery. The second instance is her way of talking about "The Yellow Wallpaper." The third is the remarkable ending, where she seems to lose herself in her rebellion against her husband John. Jane’s "nervous weakness" comes over her several times throughout the story, and in the context of Freud’s analysis of hysteria I will distinguish her problems (10).

One problem is that Jane describes to the reader the so-called nursery, but she is actually talking about her bedroom with the barred windows. Jane states, "The windows are barred for little children, and there are rings and things in the walls"(4). I think that she imagined that the rings were a game of some sort for the children that would play in the nursery. In reality, the pu...


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...kept on creeping just the same, but I looked him over my shoulder"(20). This goes to show that "the woman that creeps" was Jane all along. At the end of the story, she completely releases herself in her rebellion against John. She says, "I’ve got out at last," said I, "in spite of you and Jane. And I’ve pulled off most of the paper, so you can’t put me back"(20). Jane talks in the third person because of the result of her nervous weakness. From her imagination of the so-called nursery, "the woman," the yellow wallpaper and talking in the third person it is clear that she has serious psychological problems.

Works Cited

Breuer, Joseph and Sigmund Freud. Studies In Hysteria. Boston: Nervous and Mental Disease Publishing, 1950.

Gilman, Charlotte. "The Yellow Wallpaper" and Selected Stories. "The Yellow Wallpaper." 1892. New York: Doubleday Dell, 1989. 1-20.

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