"The Yellow Wallpaper"

1115 words - 4 pages

"The Yellow Wallpaper"

Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper" first appeared in 1892 and became a notary piece of literature for it' s historical and influential context. Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper" was a first hand account of the oppression faced toward females and the mentally ill,whom were both shunned in society in the late 1890's. It is the story of an unnamed woman confined by her doctor-husband to an attic nursery with barred windows and a bolted down bed. Forbidden to write, the narrator-protagonist becomes obsessed with the room's wallpaper, which she finds first hideous and then fascinating; on it she eventually deciphers an imprisoned woman whom she attempts to liberate by peeling the paper off the wall. The narrators' condition weakens at the end of the story, as she is driven mad by numerous influences who tried controlling her for what they believed to be assisting her. The images the character makes in her mind are related to her husband and the confinement she is forced to endure and because of the continuing pressure, until she finally cracks.

The story behind "The Yellow Wallpaper," is derived from Gilman's personal experience with numbing confinement. When S. Weir Mitchell diagnosed Charlotte Perkins Gilman as suffering from of "nervous prostration," he prescribed what many nineteenth-century physicians believed to be necessary rest. Included in Mitchell's Rest Cure treatment was locking Gilman away in his Philadelphia sanitarium for a month, enforcing strict isolation, limiting intellectual stimulation to two hours a day, and forbidding her to touch pen, pencil, or paintbrush ever again much like Gilman's character in "The Yellow Wallpaper."

Gilman's character is isolated "three miles from the village" (Gilman 1151) in an upstairs nursery of a "colonial mansion" (1150), its windows barred and its walls covered in a faded yellow wallpaper whose "sprawling flamboyant patterns" commit "every artistic sin" (1152) imaginable. The room that confines Gilman's narrator,is "a cruel, ingenious cage." It is in this room that the wallpaper reduces an artistic and articulate woman to an animal, stripped entirely of her sanity and humanity. Through Gilman's symbolism, the reader can interpret that the paper symbolizes her current situation that she faces with society and her husband. Both restrain and monitor much like the wallpaper and lead the narrator to subsequent mental demise. By placing her in this room, John, the narrator's husband, becomes the main antagonist and a direct reason why she ends up she way she does. He makes gestures at restraining her by locking up the surrounding of the house and speaks to her demeaning as "dear" or " little goose" (1152). The influence her husband has on the narrator is dominant as he hardly lets her " stir without special direction" and in turn makes her "very tired" (1151).

After these actions she starts to imagine the wallpaper as having eyes that are watching her...

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