The Yellow Wallpaper By Charlotte Perkins Gilman

The Yellow Wallpaper By Charlotte Perkins Gilman

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Charlotte Perkins Gilman, an avid feminist of her time, uses her own experience with mental illness and misogyny to write “The Yellow Wallpaper”. Gilman clearly illustrates that this story is taking place in a time where women are often oppressed by men. She challenges the common belief of the time, that women have a different brain than men. A belief that led many physicians to disregard the severity of a patient’s mental state and thus prescribe insufficient treatments. In “The Yellow Wallpaper”, Gilman suggests through the narrator of the story that confinement, in oppose to freedom, ultimately worsens mental illness and will lead to completely insanity.
The narrator begins to describe a mansion that her and her husband are staying at. She says that there is something “queer” about the house. “John laughs at me, of course, but one expects that in marriage.” (Gilman 956). This is when it starts to become clear that the narrator 's husband and doctor does not give her thoughts or opinions too much regard. John is described as “practical” and a “physician of high standing” (956). Most physicians at this time believed that women have a natural tendency to be more emotional so this is what John believes is wrong with his wife, therefore the treatment the narrator is undergoing is simply rest and isolation. She is also forbidden to write until she is better, but obviously she doesn’t follow that part of her treatment, she writes in private and hides in from the only people she comes in contact with. Her blatantly not following the orders of her doctor shows that she very much does not agree with the way he is trying to make her well again, but the fact that she secretly writes in a journal shows that she feels as though she cannot ...


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...t of the paper, so you can’t put me back!” (967). It can now be assumed that the narrator’s name is Jane. Jane, however, does not identify as Jane now. She is the woman that was trapped behind the wallpaper and she is free now. John is so overwhelmed that he faints. “Now why should that man have fainted? But he did, and right across my path by the wall, so that I had to creep over him every time!” Jane is not even phased by her husband’s bewilderment. Her confinement has lead to her to fall into complete insanity.
Gilman uses “The Yellow Wallpaper” to boldly come out and suggest that women are not mentally “lesser” than men. This short story criticizes an extremely common treatment for mentally ill women and shows how isolation and confinement instead of actual medical treatment for mental illness will inevitably only deteriorate the mind of one that is mentally ill.

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