The Yellow Wallpaper Postpartum Depression

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Postpartum depression takes a toll on many new mothers and suffer from this illness at many different degrees. In Charlotte Gilman’s short story “The Yellow Wallpaper,” the speaker in the poem suffers from the depression but her husband does not think much of it so her condition proceeds to get worse. In the “Yellow Wallpaper,” the speaker portrays that postpartum depression, is not taken seriously back in the late nineteenth century and not understood in full capacity, until recently. Back in the late nineteenth century, postpartum depression was not much of a concern to physicians. The speaker’s husband, John is a doctor that doesn’t think much of his wife’s condition. The way he speaks her makes her sound incompetent, when she is suffering…show more content…
This stereotype is linked back to the denial of postpartum depression. “…recent studies of hormone levels during pregnancy and the postpartum period have not been able to distinguish women who are depressed from those who are not,” (Harkness, 195). “If recent studies have shown that it is hard to differentiate between two emotional levels, it had to be worse in 1892. The speaker’s husband calls his wife’s emotions “temporary nervous depression,” (Gilman 246). John has a childish tone when he is talking to his wife. When she tries to state her condition, her husband says, “My little darling!” He also proceeds to say “…for my sake… as well as your own, that you will never for one instant let that idea enter your mind!” (Gilman 252). In a way, John is telling the speaker what to think. He tells her that the is getting “Better in body…” and then John suggests that they go to bed and discuss her state in the morning. Back in this day, a woman was not allowed to speak for herself in certain situations and her husband knew better, even though he didn’t know what his wife was feeling exactly. “…it is also possible that postpartum depression is a Western culture- bound syndrome, resulting from ‘perceptions of role helplessness,’” (Harkness 196); Harkness theorizes that in western culture—America—had a were even more helpless than before, which leads to decisions…show more content…
Neither John nor Jennie pay attention to the speaker and her journaling. In the 1890s and before, postpartum depression had never been taken seriously because women were viewed as too emotional and delicate. Joan Busfield supports this theory with her charts of how many people were admitted into mental hospitals, who were mostly around childbearing age. Sara Harkness writes about women’s emotions and how they are affected before and after childbirth. Verta Taylor discusses the sociological aspect of mental illness, which can connect to postpartum depression. The speaker, along with millions of other new mothers, suffers from the illness and have had no way of expressing their emotions without being ridiculed for what they are feeling until recently when it has become more researched and accepted as an illness and not as
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