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The Yellow Wallpaper

Free «The Yellow Wallpaper» Essay Sample

Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s autobiographical story” The Yellow Wallpaper has numerous interpretations. It is the portrayal of a married woman restriction in the society it has gothic elements, but most importantly it is a criticism of medical treatment of the women in times of their nervous breakdown. In most cases, human illness asserts for medical attention in order to stabilize the bodily function. As such, medical professional’s opinions perceived after by the people that are seeking reassurance, as well as, the peace of mind. Through Gilman’s sufferings, this paper seeks to present criticism of “The Yellow Wallpaper” with retrospect to the medical profession.

Gilman suffers as a patient of America’s one of the well known neurologists’ Weir Mitchell, and this presents itself in her story she says: “For many years I suffered from a severe and continuous nervous breakdown tending to melancholia. I went to a noted specialist in nervous disease he concluded there was nothing much the matter with me, and sent me home with solemn advice to ‘live as domestic a life as far as possible,’ to ‘have two hours’ intellectual life a day, and ‘never to touch pen, brush or pencil again, as long as I lived” (331).

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Consequently, Gilman’s house presents as having abnormal connotation. John explains that the mansion comprises of “external instruments of restraint suggestive of a prison or a mental ward” (John, 1994). Undoubtedly, the short story addresses issues regarding mental illness as well as the medical treatment of women. Thus, the resolution of mental commotion is fundamental in the prevention of such disorders. The narrator’s psychological distress amplifies after her husband’s treatment that confines her to the house. Moreover, the inadequacy of the patriarchal medical profession in treating women’s mental health presents itself through the narrator’s fear to visit Dr. Weir Mitchell.

Arguably, the inclusion of doctor in Gilman’s story was in an attempt to reach Dr Mitchell and convince him of the error of his ways. The rest cure prescribed by Mitchell presents men’s disappearing attitude to the female madness. As such, the rest cure calls for am comprehensive rest as well as enforces isolation. On the other hand, Mitchell specializing in woman’s nervous ailments, expounded upon his ideas regarding women’s condition. He says, “American woman is to speak plainly, too often physically unfit for her duties as a woman, and is perhaps of all civilized females the least qualified to undertake those weightier tasks which tax so heavily the nervous system of man. She is not fairly up to what nature asks from her as wife and mother. How will she sustain herself under the pressure of those yet more exacting duties which nowadays she is eager to share with the man?”(p, 135)


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Gilman’s mental disorder presents itself in various dimensions. Critics refer to the narrator’s illness as ‘hysteria’. Greg Johnsons defines it as “an expression of long suppressed rage” (Greg 1989). Arguably, Greg views her madness as temporary and in her temporary madness her suppressed rage turns out to be perceptible.

In Gilman’s utopian fiction, she envisions the women in the perfect world. Nonetheless, the world is not entirely utopian as Gilman attempts to center on the fat of redundant marriage. In the short story, the wallpaper in her symbolizes the vivid depiction of a woman trapped in her roles as mother and wife. As such, the entire story deals with the wallpaper in which Gilman sees hidden freedom as well as vivid description presented regarding the wallpaper which eventually acquired polymorphous meanings (Harris, 2009). Consequently, a strong inter relation develops between Gilman, and the wallpaper. The narrator sees it as a “her repressed other self” (p, 481)

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At one, point, she feels that there is a woman that hides in the frontier of the wallpaper. Her gradually developed through makes her believe that there is only not only one woman, but a collectivity of women craving for their freedom. As such, the development of the human mind is fundamental to all, and that certain limitations, as well as obstacles, can result in immense disorder. From a child to an old person, everybody individual seeks liberty both mental as well as physical.

With retrospect to the protagonist of the Yellow Wallpaper, desire transpires in her story. As such, its extension presents the most powerful imposition of Gilman’s husband will on her. As such, she seeks to lead her own life as she has an artistic mind as well as lobes to write. Tentatively, she keeps a secret diary for and according to golden the protagonist indicates journals an entry presented as a spatial indication of the narrators fragmented self (p, 193).

In spite of continually urging her husband for shifting away from the house, and permit her to have her way; he relics unchanged in his conclusion. Nonetheless, the narrator wants to reunite her loss and accomplishment through her writing. Debatably, her artistic imagination faces roadblocks from her husband. Her husband does not permit her to write which is an enormous barricade in terms of her emotional recuperation. She understands that she can prevent her mind from her nervous collapse through writing but her husband and sister in law’s invariable surveillance averts her from doing so. However, at the end she tears up the wallpaper and allows the figurative woman to come out from internment. Gilman feels contented as the freed women resembles her.

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Moreover, the narrator also wishes the same freedom for all women who encircled by social, emotional and physical blockade. Her provisional madness can be justified when she says ; “once she allows the woman to come out of the cage she remembers her regular dreadful nights: “I suppose 1 shall have to get back behind the pattern when it comes night, and that is hard!” (p, 4).

Additionally the short story expresses a universal anxiety regarding the position of women in Victorian society, predominantly in the marriage realm, domesticity and maternity. The narrator’s internment to her home and her feelings of victimhood in the household are a sign of one of the numerous domestic limitations that society compels upon women. The Yellow Wallpaper deals with the gendered power politics of the nineteenth century and Victorian sexuality also has an insinuation in this story. As such, the nailed-down bed exemplify static sexuality or ‘a sexual crucifixion (Johnson) of the narrator’s married life. Consequently Victorian sexuality was motionless like the serious bedstead. With retrospect to Victorian age, a wife used to be considered as an article of trade. Therefore, she belonged to her husband entirely, and her husband could do anything with her body wife was a helpful material to her husband until the woman conceives a noteworthy number of children. As a result of this idea, women’s duty was simply to give birth to children and satisfy their husbands. Women were submissive as well as docile in the Victorian society.

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At the end of the story, Gilman understands the nature of the truth that there is no getaway for her from the observation of her husband John as well as the care taker Jennie; above all from the life she is leading. As a result, she confesses that there are definite things in her life that have forever made her nervous and hysteria is a practical disturbance of the nervous system. Gilman could tell what would assist her in recovery, but she gives up all hope as her husband remains unchanged.

“Gilman’s Gothic parable: Rage and illustrates the story of Emily Dickinson’s mother as an example to demonstrate the position of Victorian women as married women. Consequently, when Dickinson’s mother was expectant, she had comparable wallpaper in her room, which had not been changed, in spite of numerous requests to her husband. Certainly, she re-prints the paper at last thinking that, it was the only thing she could do as there was no way to escape. Lbis was her “only recorded act of wifely defiance”(Johnson, 1989). Questionably, Victorian women did not have much control over their lives; accordingly they used to search for their independence in such insignificant proceeds. As a result, the narrator of The Yellow Wallpaper goes into momentary insanity, which can be, seen as a runoff from the stringent norms and morals imposed upon her by society. Those feelings are present in Emily Dickinson’s poems such that included: “Much Madness is divinest Sense”(Poern435) and “She rose to his requirement”(Poem 732).

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Conclusively, the writer presents the position of the women in the Victorian society. Consequently, their plight for freedom faces exploitation from the husband as they are comparable to assets of the man until she bears several children.

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