Insanity is a deranged state of the mind. Not everyone has the same experiences nor the same symptoms which lead to their mental disorder. In her story “The Yellow Wallpaper,” Charlotte Perkins Gilman presents a peculiar case of insanity. The main character is put on bed rest to overcome her temporary nervous depression. However, while being stuck inside the room, the unreliable narrator increasingly becomes more and more symptomatic. Gilman shows the progression of the main character’s insanity through the woman in the wallpaper, John, and the bed.
Paula A. Treichler from the University of Illinois analyzes “The Yellow Wallpaper” and its effects of the diagnosis given to the main character effectively in her article “Escaping the Sentence: Diagnosis and Discourse in ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’”. In her article, Treichler emphasizes the reasons why the main character was lead to believe her diagnosis from her husband and the other contributing factors that played a role in her hysteria, such as lack of social interaction and confinement.
Throughout the reading, the reader is exposed to the narrator’s in-depth loss of touch with reality as she sinks further and further into her own reality. As she becomes more isolated, her descriptions of the house become more abstract as she begins to focus on the wallpaper and starts to see herself as being hidden behind it. In the beginning of the story, she describes
The narrator is a woman who is imaginative trying to make her mind think and realize the meaning of the yellow wallpaper. She describes the wallpaper as, “repellant, almost revolting; smouldering unclean yellow, strangely faded by the slow turning sunlight” (Gilman 641). This specific wallpaper makes the narrator feel a certain way. At first, she does not like the color or how it looks. But then not having anything else to do in the room, she starts examining the wallpaper. “The faint figure behind seemed to shake the pattern, just as if she wanted to get out” (Gilman 652). The narrator can see a person, the person can be representing herself. She feels trapped and may be losing her mind. She can see woman trapped behind the wall and not be able to escape from it. The narrator describes it in detail that it seems like she is talking about herself going through all this emotionally and physically.
The narrator leads a fairly boring life. The only thing she seems to do all day is sleep, write, eat, look out the window and study the yellow wallpaper in her room. Evidence of this in the story is “I lie here on this great immovable bed - it is nailed down, I believe - and follow that pattern about by the hour” (Gilman 650). Another piece of evidence would be, “The color is repellant, almost revolting ; a smouldering unclean yellow, strangely faded by the slow-turning sunlight. It is a dull yet lurid orange in some places, a sickly sulphur tint in others” (Gilman 649). The next symbol is the
The main symbolism present in the story is how the yellow wallpaper represents woman suffrage and the problems they endured during the 19th century. At first the narrator just see the wallpaper as a unpleasant addition to the room as it’s a “repellent, almost revolting… unclean yellow” (Gilman 801), and the
Being a woman in the early twentieth century, she simply followed what her husband told her. She did not have her own voice and kept her thoughts to herself. With that being said, it is as if her identity is simply that of the average woman during her time. However, the days she spends in confinement go by, the identity of that woman drifts away and she is overtaken by the identity of her own mental illness. As said in Diana Martin’s journal on “Images in Psychiatry”, while the narrator in isolation she becomes “increasingly despondent and nervous”. Martin states that the narrator’s confinement in the upstairs bedroom fortifies her mental illness developing into “a frightening hallucinatory world constructed around the pattern of the yellow paper on the wall.” This shift in her identity happens as the shift in her disposition towards the wallpaper changes. The wallpaper is a visible metaphor that eventually becomes her identity. In the beginning of her stay in the bedroom she says the wallpaper is “committing artistic sin” (Par34) and can push anyone to “suddenly commit suicide” (Par35) These comments show her despise towards the wallpaper and the separation she originally has from it. However, we later see a shift in her feelings towards the wallpaper as she states that she is growing “really fond of the room in spite of the wallpaper” and comes to a realization that it may be “because of the wallpaper” (Par 94) As her opinions on the wallpaper begin to change, the progression of her mental instability becomes increasing visible. She begins to build a relationship with the wallpaper and claims that “There are things in that paper that nobody knows about” (Par 22) her. As this relationship with the wallpaper builds, her sanity begins to slip, and the hallucinations begin in a somewhat minor manor. In her first mention of “the woman” she says that the pattern on the
The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin and the Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Stetson
Throughout the generation, women have always been trapped in some way or another. In the short story, ‘The Yellow Wall-Paper’ and the novel ‘The Awakening’ highlights the struggle of women in the late 1800’s and the early 1900s in society. The Yellow wallpaper is a short story about women giving birth and being imprisoned in a room with a weird view of the yellow wall-paper. This resulted in her hallucination lead to the development of mental illness. By the end of the story, she rips off the yellow wallpaper and kills her husband. Similar to this is the story of Edna in the novel ‘The Awakening’ by Kate Chopin. This story highlights the life of a woman who is trying to gain independence in a trapped society where it is impossible for women in that type of culture to be free. Society plays a major role in her story as the society oppresses her in such a way that results in a tragic ending.
As it is with most good stories, the presence of strong symbolism and detailed settings is a very important aspect of the story that helps to draw the reader into the story. However, in stories such as “The Yellow Wallpaper,” the narrator’s point of view is what truly helps define the setting and symbolism. Without the narrator’s distinct point of view on how she
Charlotte Gilman’s short story, ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’, (1899) is a text that describes how suppression of women and their confinement in domestic sphere leads to descend into insanity for escape. The story is written as diary entries of the protagonist, who is living with her husband in an old mansion for the summer.
To develop the setting of the house, Gilman uses vivid diction to craft an image of the house to show how men a imprisoning the minds of women in Victorian society. Gilman introduces the house as a “colonial mansion, a hereditary estate, I would say a haunted house, and reach the height of romantic felicity” (1066). Although her description uses the words “romantic felicity” which seem to carry a light tone, these words are preceded by the dark statement that the estate is a “haunted house”. By contrasting these two tones, Gilman foreshadows that the house in which the narrator is interned for treatment might seem magnificent and grand, but in reality, the house and the rest cure will turn out to be her doom. The foreshadowing hints that Gilman uses the contrasting description of the house to point out how physicians like John are oppressing women by denying them their right to a postpartum experience with their baby, a thing of “romantic felicity,” and instead, turning it into an ordeal as nightmarish as a “haunted house.”
In the short story, The Yellow Wallpaper, Charlotte Perkins Gilman represents how wretchedness is overlooked and changed into blended sentiments that eventually result in a significantly more profound enduring incongruity. The Yellow Wallpaper utilizes striking mental and psychoanalytical symbolism and an effective women's activist message to present a topic of women' have to escape from detainment by their male centric culture.
In “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Stetson, the narrator and her husband John help express a variety of themes addressing marriage, gender roles, and gender discrimination. The short story starts with the narrator and her husband moving into a colonial mansion for the summer. They do this to improve the narrator’s health. Stetson does not tell the readers what the narrator’s illness is; however, from the story it appears as if the narrator is mentally unstable and nervous. With the narrator’s health worsening she appears to grow obsessed with the distasteful yellow wallpaper in her room. In reality, Stetson uses the narrator’s obsession with the yellow wallpaper as a symbol for numerous