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The Yellow Wallpaper Analysis

Essay by   •  April 15, 2012  •  Case Study  •  543 Words (3 Pages)  •  1,843 Views

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During the late 1800's women were confined in society, often unable to make their own decisions and voice opposition to men. Women were expected to bear children, keep the house orderly, and do as they were told so. Men, on the other hand were educated, held jobs, and were able to make all decisions. In The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, the narrator symbolizes all women of her time: a prisoner of a confining society.

The first person perspective of the narrator is important because it allows the reader to both understand and experience the narrator's descent into mania. The reader is allowed into the narrator's head at each stage of her insanity. The narrator was diagnosed with a temporary nervous depression, with slight hysterical tendencies. The narrator's husband John, a doctor, confines her to a nursery for the "rest cure" treatment. John also denies his wife the liberty to express her creativity through writing and any say in her life. John also kept all company away from her and did not allow her to be with her child. All these doings were done under the idea that it would lower his wife's nervousness. While John believes that he is aiding his wife's condition, he is in fact suppressing her. John's character represents society at large. John determines and controls what his wife should and should not do, leaving her incapable of her own decision- making. As a physician of high standing, John treats his wife as he would the rest of his patients. He tells his wife that she is to take tonics, journeys and air and to exercise.

The narrator believes that a life with no work and excitement will certainly not be helpful in her road to recovery. She questions numerous times, "What is one to do?" The repetition of this question demonstrates that she cannot do anything to change her life because her husband, "society" controls what she is and is not allowed to do. Since writing is frowned upon as a profession for women, the narrator is unable to write in the presence of others. The narrator believes that the people that see her writing will view it as only contributing to her illness, so she refrains to only write in secret.

While confined to the room, the narrator begins to focus on the yellow wallpaper and obsess about it. The wallpaper only adds to her insanity. The narrator's existent anxiety and inactivity allow her mind to deteriorate. At first, the wallpaper is just unpleasant to the narrator. She views it as ripped, soiled, and an unclean yellow. Soon, the formless pattern brings the narrators mind somewhere else. She becomes fascinated of how the pattern is organized. After countless hours of staring at the paper, she begins to see a ghostly figure. The ghostly figure then becomes a desperate woman, seeking escape who constantly crawls and stoops behind the main pattern. The main pattern represents the pattern



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