Hysteria In Wide Sargasso Sea And The Yellow Wallpaper

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Hysteria was first discovered in Egyptian texts dating back to 1900 BC. However, in the 19th century, the epidemic began to spread in Europe and the U.S. Exclusively to women, hysteria caused a variety of side effects such as sexual desire, emotional eruptions and nervousness. It was not until psychologist Sigmund Freud debunked the illness in the 1890’s, that hysteria was pronounced a misconception. Although the myth of the disease disappeared, the stigmas surrounding women’s behavior were still present. In Wide Sargasso Sea, by Jean Rhys, and The Yellow Wallpaper, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, the female protagonists slowly slip into insanity due to the authority of their husbands. The image of the hysterical woman displayed throughout history…show more content…
The main conflict the narrator encounters is being torn between reality, which is the world outside the room, and understanding herself. Jane establishes the room as a shield. The narrator refuses to acknowledge everything outside, like her relationship and child, and constructs a safety zone. Her restriction for writing, placed by her husband, also inhibits her imagination. In contrast, her rebellion in both writing and fantasizing further her descent into madness. She begins to slip away from reality and into her dreamlike world. The woman seen in the wallpaper mirrors the narrator 's plight for freedom. While she is free from the restraints of marriage and motherhood, she has been consumed by madness. John dominates the relationship, both as doctor and husband. The dual roles however prevent him from fully understanding Jane. Due to his authority, he prevents Jane from expressing her feelings. He continuously condescends her, calling her a “blessed little goose” and “little girl”, similar to Rochester patronizing Antoinette. It is clear that he does not understand Jane’s true identity because he only sees the surface of her personality. Their relationship conclusively destroys Jane due to John dehumanizing
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