Theme Of Madness In Literature

Powerful Essays
In literature, the subject of madness has often been touched and exploited throughout the eras by a great number of writers with many perspectives. It has not only been discussed but also used as a symbol by the great artists as Shakespeare and Virginia Woolf to convey and expose deeper, metaphorical messages. In their works the state of insanity is used as a symbol of a superior cognition of the world or deeper sensitivities. The motif of madness as a symbol is also often exploited by many women writers of nineteenth century. As the perspective towards madness has been changed throughout the period from ancient Greece to modern, its usage as a certain symbol is also constantly changing. From the revelation of the darkest secrets of the…show more content…
“The Yellow Wallpaper” is her best-known and important 19th century short-story dealing with the subject of madness. The story is believed to have been inspired from the real life experience of Gilman who suffered a severe depression during her decade-long marriage and “underwent a series of unusual treatments for it”. She was refused to perform any intellectual actions by her specialist Dr. S. Weir Mitchell and prescribed a complete bed rest “rest cure” for several weeks. She was prevented from pursuing her ambition as a writer and suggested to “live as domestic life as far as possible”, making her sick more than ever. Her sufferings, depression, mental trauma, and oppression, find its full eloquence in this very story where she uses madness as an agency to give voice to her mental sufferings and rebellion against the women oppression. Thus, presenting a mad heroine, the narrator, as the counterpart of…show more content…
323). The room’s windows are barred to prevent children from climbing through them and the narrator is prevented from going anywhere outside her room. She was strictly suggested just to eat and rest plenty, making the room nothing more for her but a prison. Perhaps it works as a room used to house an insane person. Her confinement in the room is what drives her to insanity which ultimately leads her to realize her position as someone who is imprisoned. Gilman here suggests the fact that for 18th and 19th century women domestic imprisonment or confinement is a natural state, and unless one realizes this one would not be able to break free from it. For her sister-in-law Jennie and caretaker Mary this kind of life is no prison as they have no aspirations beyond the prison of domestic sphere but for the narrator it is as she aspires to achieve more than the title of a true Victorian
Get Access