Shakespeare's Sister By Charlotte Perkins Stetson

1353 Words6 Pages

In ‘Shakespeare’s Sister’, Virginia Woolf writes, “…we go alone and that our relation is to the world of reality and not only to the world of men and women, then the opportunity will come”, (Woolf 9). She contends that solitude and seeing beyond gender will offer a chance for self-discovery. This concept carries into ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ by Charlotte Perkins Stetson, where isolation provides an opportunity to escape societal expectations. The short story emphasizes the protagonist's journey towards liberation from patriarchal expectations, highlighting her separation from her husband as a primitive point towards her independence. Additionally, her distance from her baby is portrayed as a relief, as it allows her to escape the societal pressure …show more content…

The narrator intentionally creates distance from herself and her baby by entrusting his care to Mary. This evidence in the writing where she remarks, “It is fortunate…”, (Stetson 3), which suggests that she has positive feelings toward the baby, but also implies a sense of detachment. She further emphasizes this detachment by saying, “the baby” instead of “my baby” or “John’s baby” and acknowledging that Mary is the one taking care of him by saying, “Mary is so good with the baby”, (Stetson 3). In addition, the narrator’s anxieties increase when she is around the baby, prompting her to distance herself from him. This is evident in her words, “I cannot be with him...” (Stetson 3), with the emphasis on “cannot” indicating her complete inability to be near him. She goes on to explain, “...it makes me so nervous” (Stetson 3), highlighting the anxiety caused by her postpartum depression. The narrator expresses her comfort with not having the baby in the room. After acknowledging that the baby is “well and happy”, (Stetson 6), the following statement is, “…and does not have to occupy this nursery” (Stetson 6), which suggests her contentment with the absence of the baby in the room. The positive wording in the first part of the quotes carries into the second, indicating that the narrator is free to express herself while writing. …show more content…

To begin, despite the societal expectations that the room was meant for children, the narrator’s judgment of the room remains unimpeded. In fact, when she first writes about the room, she states, “... I should judge” (Stetson 2), indicating that there is an expectation for her to judge the room, but she refrains from doing so. Her judgment lays with the wallpaper. The narrator sees the wallpaper as the only thing in the room that does not belong to her, as its indecipherable drawings prevent her from making it her own. Causing frustration with this lack of control drives her to tear it down, and in the process, she becomes so angry that she describes herself as being,“enough to do something desperate” (Stetson 9). Ultimately, the narrator defies societal expectations for women to maintain a clean and tidy appearance, as well remodelling the room how she likes. The final aspect being, the window provides an illusion that she has the freedoms of the outside world, affording her conformability. This is evident as she positively describes the view of the garden as something that is personal to her, I can see the garden” (Stetson 3). Additionally, the bay seen through the other window represents an escape and symbolizes freedom. By describing the garden and imagining escape, the narrator asserts her agency within the confines of her environment. As

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