The Yellow Wallpaper, By Charlotte Perkins Gilman

The Yellow Wallpaper, By Charlotte Perkins Gilman

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There are various interpretations of what causes the narrator to go crazy in the short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. These interpretations include suggestions that the narrator is possessed, that she is oppressed by society and is acting out, that she has suffered from a traumatic childbirth, and so on. While all of these ideas hold merit and are supported by evidence in the short story, there is an alternative explanation that fits the story just as well, if not better. That explanation is that the reason the narrator in “The Yellow Wallpaper” acts strangely and sees images in the wallpaper of her room is that she is suffering from the disorder of postpartum psychosis. During this essay I will be going into depth on a psychological analysis of “The Yellow Wallpaper”.
Postpartum psychosis has a wide range of symptoms, all of which the narrator of “The Yellow Wallpaper” exhibits. The disorder, which sets on up to several weeks after giving birth, “is characterized by symptoms of extreme agitation, confusion, exhilaration, and an inability to sleep or eat. It may be hard to maintain a coherent conversation with a woman who has postpartum psychosis. She may also experience delusions, hallucinations, and altered and impaired concept of reality, rapid mood swings, insomnia, and abnormal or obsessive thoughts (Beck 47). The description of the disorder fits almost perfectly with what can be seen from the way that the narrator writes in “The Yellow Wallpaper”. Her descriptions of her actions and thoughts, along with what she sees in the wallpaper of her room can be interpreted as symptoms of postpartum psychosis. Furthermore, the reader is aware that the narrator has given birth recently, as she mentions, “it i...


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...or is so far into her psychosis that she is willing to commit homicide if a person touches her wallpaper.
The overwhelming evidence in “The Yellow Wallpaper” that the narrator has postpartum psychosis leaves little room for other scientific explanations of her problems. The reader knows that she has given birth recently, she becomes agitated and exhilarated easily, she has abnormal thoughts, insomnia, inability to eat, hallucinations, homicidal and suicidal thoughts and so on; all of which are symptoms of postpartum depression. Ultimately, this means that the short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” is a harrowing tale of a woman suffering from a mental disorder, and a reflection of a society that is unable to properly treat or take care of their ill. All of her feelings come out in a much stronger way because of the fact they have been repressed for twenty five years.

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