The Yellow Wallpaper By Charlotte Perkins Gilman

The Yellow Wallpaper By Charlotte Perkins Gilman

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Charlotte Perkins Gilman experienced a relatively similar life story to the life of the narrator in “The Yellow Wallpaper”. She was prescribed the same “rest cure” as the narrator that subsequently led to a mental breakdown. The prescribed “rest cure” entails minimal human contact, repressed imagination, and female confinement. Comparatively, persistently being told that you are insane especially if you’re not, may drive someone to actually become psychotic.
“The Yellow Wallpaper” is set in the countryside, miles away from the nearest village, in a summer home. Surrounded by hedges, a garden, and servants’ quarters, the setting provides a serene but confined feel to the story. The setting gives off a feel of tranquility but later on is discovered as a place of confinement. With barred windows and a nailed down bed, this nursery type room becomes the main fixation of the protagonist. Considering the conditions that the protagonist was placed in, you cannot expect an ill woman to find any sense of relief at this home. Charlotte Perkins Gilman characterizes the husband in the story as a compulsive liar and a man who takes complete control of her, and her medical care solely because she is a woman. For example, she says “John is a physician, and PERHAPS-(I would not say it to a living soul, of course, but this is dead paper and a great relief to my mind) - PERHAPS that is one reason I do not get well faster.” (Gilman 1) The author’s husband is said to be physician, most likely not a really great one. The author implies that her husband has told her that writing her stories will cause her healing process to take longer than expected. She is not actually sick though. Her husband constantly pushes those thoughts and diagnosis’ into he...


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...(Gilman) She locks herself in the bedroom and watches patiently, guarding the wall in case the woman tries to escape. The narrator has pretty much written a story about everything she has seen, in her psychotic state of mind, due to her husband’s ludicrous method of healing. She and the woman in the wall peeled off all the paper and she wants to surprise John with this incredible accomplishment. This quote illustrates symbolism since she is driven so insane by her husband, and this is what her condition has led her to. In addition, “The paper comes to symbolize her utter lack of power in the social construct: her husband John has the knowledge, earns the money, and makes the decisions. She has no role except to be his wife and the mother of his child; and when she rejects those roles, through the excuse of illness, he is angrier than he is concerned.” (Wagner-Martin)

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