The Yellow Wallpaper

Length: 5 Pages 1176 Words

"The Yellow Wallpaper", by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, is the story of a submissive wife whose husband pushes her from depression into insanity. The husband is a doctor, whose treatment for his wife’s apparent post-partum depression is slowly driving her mad. This treatment involves isolation and deprivation of her writing, her favorite thing to do. The woman tells throughout the story how she disagrees with the diagnosis given by her husband and how she must hide her writing for fear of what his reaction would be. She tells of her depression and how her husband and brother dismiss it as “temporary nervous depression"(431). She reveals that she is indeed depressed due to resentment toward her husband and possibly, men in general, for the dominance they assert over her as a woman. Even when a summer in the country and weeks of bed-rest don't help, her husband refuses to accept that she may have a real problem. This causes him to enforce his treatments more strictly, thus causing her to go insane. This story shows that even when one is up against extraordinary odds, the will of a person will triumph over a repressive situation. As the main character of the story, the narrator tries to be positive, but has great difficult Continue...

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She is an introverted, imaginative woman whose naturally positive persona is undermined by her depression. One of these instances is when the narrator describes the furniture in the room as "...if it had been through the wars. Rather, her unhappiness came from a male dominance that was common in that time. Now, instead of finding the good in her surroundings, she describes the walls in her room as "particularly irritating...(434) and "...the horrid wallpaper(436) reflects her feelings toward the room itself. Through the use of language, Gilman is able to relay the narrator's feelings through the personification of certain surroundings. Treading softly takes it's toll on her and finally drives her to insanity - her freedom. However, her situation is compared to the unpleasant and unharmonious room in which she is confined. She is instructed to get plenty of rest, but does not sleep. Which otherwise, would not have been allowed. Though her husband and her brother are both physicians, she questions their prescriptions. This is evident through her statement "But I must say what I feel and think in some way-it is such a relief(434). By knowing the era in which the story is set, one can only assume that her problems do not only stem from an apparent post-partum depression. Perhaps the strongest and most telling element of the woman's situation is her immediate location. She is confined to a country estate that is fairly glorious, but has been left in a state of certain disrepair. Her situation is a kind of imprisonment and her husband is the warden.


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