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The Yellow Wallpaper

Essay by   •  November 28, 2011  •  Term Paper  •  1,239 Words (5 Pages)  •  1,853 Views

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While reading "The Yellow Wallpaper" I was surprised at how plain the story was. What made the story come to life, for me, was researching the circumstances that lead up to the creation of the story that gave readers the feelings needed to understand the short story. If someone was to just pick up the story and read, without knowing what the writer was feeling or experiencing, at the time it was written, would lose a very important aspect of the story. While reading what others had to say about the story some referred to it as a horror story, while the majority sided with mental illness as the main theme. The mental illness was worsened and perhaps helped along by the characters husband when Gilman writes, "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, 1899). The fact that besides her husband being a physician her brother is as well, is foul play on their part happening? Or was her paranoia a symptom of her madness? Whatever the reason it is clear the woman went mad.

What makes this story so good was the writer, Charlotte Perkins Gilman. A true artist and thank god because only a true artist can create from their own experiences a true masterpiece. Giving the story life that it needs to cross over to the reader and her writing accomplishments were rather large. Ann J. Lane wrote a biography on Charlotte Perkins Gilman that was given pretty good reviews. Lane feels that Dr. Weir Mitchell is the leading force that drives the woman mad. John, the husband used Dr. Mitchell as threats hoping to speed up the characters recovery, but it is the likeness of her husband and her brother (in action and persona) that only worsen the characters illness and Lane writes, "He is cast as someone even more dangerous than her husband, whom by new we recognize as the force leading her to her destruction" (126).

In a review by Elaine R. Hedges she writes, "Post-structuralist, deconstructionist, psychoanalytic, and cultural studies critical theories, all of which have been brought to bear on "The Yellow Wallpaper"--newly problematized terms or concepts that were important to the thinking of the story's earliest critics and to the political activism of the time, such as "identity," "autonomy," and "liberation." (Karpinski, 230). When I read the short story I can't help but think that the behavior for that time was common and the story has great historical value in allowing the reader to experience the oppression of women of that time. I'm sure the implications of the story at that time were the reason the story was so plain. More like a crafty letter or a puzzle that one must read between the lines to see the real clues.

In the essay, "Feminism, New Historicism and The Reader" writer Wai-Chee Dimock discusses how Gilman was a very feministic writer. Writing of her madness and pointing a finger at the Doctors as having caused the characters madness as well as possibly her own. Her feminism in Gilman's life clearly spreads over the short story, "The Yellow wallpaper". Dimock writes, "For about thirteen years of her life, from 1887 to 1900, between the time she left her first husband and the time she married her second, Gilman supported herself in California, making a living as an editor of magazines, a veteran on the lecture circuit, and a respected authority on the economics of housework" (637). Gilman believed that house work should be viewed as a profession and fighting for equal rights

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