Descent Into Madness In Charlotte Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper

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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.

The protagonist, who remains unnamed, is suffering from post-partum depression after the birth of her child and is on ‘rest’ cure by her physician husband. In this paper, I will try to prove that ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ acts as a subversive text by portraying the protagonist’s “descent into madness” as a result of the suppression that women faced in Victorian period.

‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ depicts the restrains that were imposed
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She begins to see strangles heads in the wallpaper, which can be a symbolic representation of the patriarchal order that stifled women. The bars on the wallpaper that cage the imaginary women are a reflection of her own situation where she is confined in the old mansion. Even the smell of the wallpaper, which she describes as being ‘yellow’ and present throughout the house, is a reflection of the mental repression that is always present in her life. She is so consumed by the smell that she thinks about burning the old mansion just to cover it…show more content…
The repressed self is released out by detaching from reality. This detachment allows her to be free from social norms as her madness now allows her to no longer conform to cultural bounds. Her final protest, thus, comes out in the form of insanity. She can now escape from the cage of her husband by refusing to accept her identity as a repressed woman. This text thus brings to focus the dark theme that cultural and social expectations of women are so rigid that the protagonist has to give up her identity as a sane woman to finally achieve the freedom she is denied through
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