Treatment of Women with Mental Illness in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’sThe Yellow Wallpaper

Treatment of Women with Mental Illness in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’sThe Yellow Wallpaper

Length: 584 words (1.7 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Good Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” has opened many people’s eyes since it was first published in 1892. In the beginning readers only acknowledged Gilman’s story as showing how women with mental illnesses were treated by physicians during the 1800’s. They overlooked the deeper meaning the text contained, and it was not until later that readers discovered it. Eventually, “The Yellow Wallpaper” became known as feminist literature. Gilman does a great job showing how women suffered from inadequate medical treatment, but above that she depicts how nineteenth century women were trapped in their roles in society and yearned to escape from being controlled by males.
The narrator in “The Yellow Wallpaper” knows she is sick, but the men in her life do not think she is seriously ill. Her husband, John, and her brother are both physicians of high standing, so she does not know what to do when they diagnose her as being perfectly healthy. Even though she does not agree with their remedies she has no say over them. She admits with discomfort, “So I take phosphates or phosphites-whichever it is, and tonics, and journeys, and airs, and exercise, and am absolutely forbidden to “work” until I am well again”(Gilman 956). Although she would know if she was sick and what would make her feel better more than anyone else, she is forced to go along with her husband’s elaborate plan for her path to recovery. “Every time the narrator speaks, she is interrupted and contradicted until she begins to interrupt and contradict herself” (Ford). Although the narrator is a woman, she has a male discourse because her husband speaks for her.
The story teller does not like her room and desires to stay in one downstairs that opens o...


... middle of paper ...


...l. Men thought they knew what was best, and ignored the desires of the women. The women had no choice but to go along with the men’s choices. Nineteenth century women did not have much of a role in society, and it was meant to stay that way. “The Yellow Wallpaper” is classified as a feminist text because it portrays the desire for women to escape the society that has neglected them for so many years.



Works Cited
Ford, Karen. “The Yellow Wallpaper’ and Women’s Discourse.” Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature 4.2 (1985):309-314. Rpt. in Short Story Criticism. Ed. Lawrence J. Trudeau. Vol. 182. Detroit: Gale, 2013. Literature Resource Center. Web. 18 Mar. 2014.
Gilman, Charlotte. The Yellow Wallpaper. Making Literature Matter: An Anthology for Readers and Writers. By John Schilb and John Clifford. 5th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2012. 954-967. Print.

Need Writing Help?

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

Check your paper »

Treatment of Women with Mental Illness in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’sThe Yellow Wallpaper

- Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” has opened many people’s eyes since it was first published in 1892. In the beginning readers only acknowledged Gilman’s story as showing how women with mental illnesses were treated by physicians during the 1800’s. They overlooked the deeper meaning the text contained, and it was not until later that readers discovered it. Eventually, “The Yellow Wallpaper” became known as feminist literature. Gilman does a great job showing how women suffered from inadequate medical treatment, but above that she depicts how nineteenth century women were trapped in their roles in society and yearned to escape from being controlled by males....   [tags: confinement, society, control ]

Good Essays
584 words (1.7 pages)

The Yellow Wallpaper, By Charlotte Gilman

- Author Charlotte Gilman in “The Yellow Wallpaper” gives a personal short story about mental health care during her time. This account is personal, as the character in the story has experiences close to what author Gilman had during her period of receiving the ‘resting cure’ (Gilman). While many themes are described in the short story, the theme of passive health-care is especially prominent. The story delves into particular detail with the administration and effects of the resting cure in regards to the main character’s mental state....   [tags: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper]

Good Essays
991 words (2.8 pages)

The Yellow Wallpaper By Charlotte Perkins Gilman

- Yellow Wallpaper “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman peers into the eyes of a wealthy victorian wife as she slowly loses grasp of her sanity. John, her physician husband, utilizes the best of his blindly male centric medical knowhow to unintentionally guide his wife down the rabbit hole of insanity. As the narrators tip toes the line of lucidity, the seemingly malevolent tattered yellow wallpaper in their new home serves as the McGuffin, facilitating her voyage into madness. The central idea of “The Yellow Wallpaper” is that misdiagnosis and mistreatment can worsen the state of the individual being treated....   [tags: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper]

Good Essays
1042 words (3 pages)

An Analysis Of ' A Rose For Emily ' And ' The Yellow Wallpaper '

- The stories “A Rose for Emily” by Faulkner, and “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Gilman both touch on the topic of insanity. In both stories, the insanity is caused by an obsession over a certain thing, or person. This suggests to the reader that fixating on a certain thing in life, even if it seems good at the time, often ends up being detrimental to our health. There are a few things that bring about the downfall of Emily and the woman from “The Yellow Wallpaper” who is possibly Jane, which is what I will be calling her in this paper....   [tags: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper]

Good Essays
1260 words (3.6 pages)

The Narrator of The Yellow Wallpaper

- The Narrator of The Yellow Wallpaper In “The Yellow Wallpaper” the narrator becomes more depressed throughout the story because of the recommendation of isolation that was made to her. In this short story the narrator is detained in a lonesome, drab room in an attempt to free herself of a nervous disorder. The narrator’s husband, a physician, adheres to this belief and forces his wife into a treatment of solitude. Rather than heal the narrator of her psychological disorder, the treatment only contributes to its effects, driving her into a severe depression....   [tags: The Yellow Wallpaper]

Good Essays
832 words (2.4 pages)

Free Yellow Wallpaper Essays: Physical and Mental Abuse

- Physical and Mental Abuse in The Yellow Wallpaper What is Abuse. Abuse is not just being hit. Abuse is any action that is harmful or controlling and that affects the well being of another person. Many people use the term "Abuse" to signify physical abuse, but there are many more ways of abusing someone than beating them. Physical abuse is the most horrifying and most noticeable of them all, but it is only one of the many types of abuse. Here are some of the names for different categories of abuse: Physical abuse, Sexual abuse, Psychological and Verbal abuse, Forced confinement, abuse towards pets or property, Financial abuse, and Child abuse....   [tags: Yellow Wallpaper essays]

Free Essays
1418 words (4.1 pages)

Symbolism and Repression in The Yellow Wallpaper

- Symbolism and Repression in The Yellow Wallpaper        Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s story, “The Yellow Wallpaper” is as a wonderful example of the gothic horror genre. It was not until the rediscovery of the story in the early 1970’s that “The Yellow Wallpaper” was recognized as a feminist indictment of a male dominated society. The story contains many typical gothic trappings, but beneath the conventional façade hides a tale of repression and freedom told in intricate symbolism as seen through the eyes of a mad narrator....   [tags: Yellow Wallpaper essays]

Good Essays
2045 words (5.8 pages)

The Deeper Meaning of The Yellow Wallpaper

- Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story, "The Yellow Wallpaper," is the disheartening tale of a woman suffering from postpartum depression. Set during the late 1890s, the story shows the mental and emotional results of the typical "rest cure" prescribed during that era and the narrator’s reaction to this course of treatment. It would appear that Gilman was writing about her own anguish as she herself underwent such a treatment with Dr. Silas Weir Mitchell in 1887, just two years after the birth of her daughter Katherine....   [tags: The Yellow Wallpaper, 2014]

Good Essays
1250 words (3.6 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]

Good Essays
1089 words (3.1 pages)

Gilman Exposed in The Yellow Wallpaper

- Gilman Exposed in The Yellow Wallpaper      Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story, "The Yellow Wallpaper," is the disheartening tale of a woman suffering from postpartum depression. Set during the late 1890s, the story shows the mental and emotional results of the typical "rest cure" prescribed during that era and the narrator’s reaction to this course of treatment. It would appear that Gilman was writing about her own anguish as she herself underwent such a treatment with Dr. Silas Weir Mitchell in 1887, just two years after the birth of her daughter Katherine....   [tags: Yellow Wallpaper essays]

Good Essays
1293 words (3.7 pages)