Yellow Wallpaper Sane

611 Words3 Pages

What exactly defines one as “insane” versus “sane”, and where is the boundary between the two? Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” explores exactly that: the short story initially seems to be a tale of a 19th century woman forced into the notorious rest cure popularized at the time by male doctors--however, as the plot progresses, it becomes a much deeper commentary not only on societal limitations imposed on women, but also on the blurred line separating sanity from insanity. Gilman explores the boundary between sanity and insanity with the usage of different literary elements; she expresses how the boundary is “paper-thin” through the usage of symbolism, shows the subtle conversion to insanity by utilizing a stream of consciousness …show more content…

Initially, the narrator is disgusted and irritated by the paper, claiming, “I never saw a worse paper in my life. One of those sprawling flamboyant patterns committing every artistic sin” (339). This reaction mirrors that of a sane person’s--fearing the unknown, they distance themselves from insanity and any iteration of it, seeing it as grotesque and shameful. Yet, as she spends more time in the room, she grows interested in the wallpaper and begins to investigate. She comes to the conclusion that: “I didn 't realize for a long time what the thing was that showed behind, that dim sub-pattern, but now I am quite sure it is a woman” (346). This observation also serves as the narrator recognizing the paper’s, or boundary’s, relevance to herself; she sees a “woman”--a reflection of herself--trapped behind the paper, confined by that thin line that separates herself from total insanity. Her behavior becomes obsessive: she keeps a constant vigil of the wallpaper at night, and claims that the woman behind the wallpaper “is all the time trying to climb through” (348). And the narrator aids her escape--as soon as she is given the opportunity: “I shook and she pulled, and before morning we had peeled off yards of that paper” (349). The destruction of the wallpaper is symbolic of her fully delving into the world of insanity. From this point

Open Document