Horror In The Yellow Wallpaper

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The connation of horror can be expressed in many different ways. One may not be able to decipher what qualifies as horror and what does not. In the story, “The Yellow Wallpaper,” Charlotte Perkins Gilman seeks to show the reader the submissive role women were expected to play in marriages in the twentieth century. The reader is immediately aware of the condescending manner in which the physician husband addresses his wife. The husband professes love and concern for his wife, but denies her a sense of reality and inflicts his will in ways that he cannot realize is detrimental to her condition. Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” supports Carroll’s specification of what qualifies as horror with its focus on impurity. However, “The Yellow Wallpaper”…show more content…
The story is set in the twentieth century and women were expected to nurture their children and do the housekeeping while their husbands worked. However, the narrator in “The Yellow Wallpaper” has a housekeeper and someone to care for her baby, which was uncommon at that time: “It is fortunate Mary is so good with the baby. Such a dear baby! And yet I cannot be with him, it makes me so nervous” (Gilman 312). The narrator goes on to describe the housekeeper, who is also John’s sister, “she is a perfect and enthusiastic housekeeper, and hopes for no better profession” (Gilman 313). According to Carroll, the narrator will be considered impure because of her incapability to nurture her own child and do her own housekeeping. She allows other people to do the jobs she’s expected to do. Carroll uses the author, Mary Douglas, as an example to describe how something can be considered impure: “Mary Douglas correlates reaction of impurity with the transgression or violation of schemes of cultural characterization… for example, she hypothesizes that the reason crawling things from the sea, like lobsters, are regarded as impure is that crawling was a defining feature of earth bound creatures, not of creatures of the sea. A lobster, in other words, is a kind of category mistake and, hence, impure” (55). Carroll’s quote correlates with the impurity of the narrator in “The Yellow Wallpaper.” Her “defining feature” was to care for her child and to take care of her housekeeping, this aspect defied the reader’s expectations because of her incapability of doing the jobs she was expected to do at that time, thus, making her impure, according to Carroll. Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” explicitly supports the criterion set forth by

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