Yellow Wallpaper Essay, Research Paper
The Yellow Wallpaper & # 8211 ; A Descent into Madness
In the 19th century, adult females in literature were frequently portrayed as submissive to work forces. Literature of the period frequently characterized adult females as oppressed by society, every bit good as by the male influences in their lives. The Yellow Wallpaper presents the tragic narrative of a adult female & # 8217 ; s descent into depression and lunacy. Gilman one time wrote & # 8220 ; Women & # 8217 ; s subordination will merely stop when adult females lead the battle for their ain liberty, thereby liberating adult male every bit good as themselves, because adult male suffers from the deformations that come from laterality, merely as adult females are scarred by the subjection imposed upon them & # 8221 ; ( Lane 5 ) . The Yellow Wallpaper brightly illustrates this doctrine. The storyteller & # 8217 ; s worsening mental wellness is reflected through the features of the house she is trapped in and her hubby, while seeking to protect her, is really destructing her.
The storyteller of the narrative goes with her doctor/husband to remain in a colonial sign of the zodiac for the summer. The house is supposed to be a topographic point where she can retrieve from terrible postpartum depression. She loves her babe, but knows she is non able to take attention of him. & # 8220 ; It is fortunate Mary is so good with the babe. Such a beloved babe! And yet I can non be with him, it makes me so nervous & # 8221 ; ( Gilman 642 ) .
The symbolism utilized by Gilman is slightly awry from the conventional. A house normally symbolizes security. In this narrative the opposite is true. The supporter, whose name we ne’er learn, feels trapped by the walls of the house, merely as she is trapped by her mental unwellness. The Windowss of her room, which usually would typify a sense of freedom, are barred, keeping her in. ( Biedermann 179, 382 ) .
From the beginning the reader is given a sense of the tyrannizing inclinations of the storyteller & # 8217 ; s hubby, John. The storyteller tells us: & # 8220 ; John is a doctor, and possibly? ( I would non state it to a life psyche, of class, but this is dead paper and a great alleviation to my head ) ? possibly that is one ground I do non acquire good faster & # 8221 ; ( Gilman 640 ) . It is distressingly obvious that she feels trapped and unable to show her frights to her hubby. & # 8220 ; You see, he does non believe I am ill. And what can one make? If a doctor of high standing and one & # 8217 ; s ain hubby assures friends and relatives that there is truly nil the affair with one but impermanent nervous depression? a little hysterical inclination? what is one to make? & # 8221 ; Her hubby is non the lone male figure who dominates and oppresses her. Her brother, besides a physician, & # 8220 ; says the same thing & # 8221 ; ( Gilman 640-641 ) .
Because the narrative is written in diary format, we feel particularly near to this adult female. We are in touch with her innermost ideas. The laterality of her hubby, and her reaction to it, is reflected throughout the narrative. The storyteller is continually submissive, bowing to her hubby & # 8217 ; s wants, even though she is unhappy and down. Her hubby has adopted the thought that she must hold complete remainder if she is to retrieve. This is a direct analogue to Gilman & # 8217 ; s life, wherein during her unwellness she was treated by a physician who introduced her to the & # 8220 ; rest cure. & # 8221 ; She was instructed to populate a domestic life, merely engage in rational activities two hours a twenty-four hours, and & # 8220 ; ne’er to touch pen, coppice, or pencil once more & # 8221 ; every bit long as she lived ( Gilman 640 ) . In this narrative, the storyteller & # 8217 ; s hubby, John, does non desire her to work. & # 8220 ; So I. . . am perfectly out to? work & # 8217 ; until I am good once more & # 8221 ; ( Gilman 641 ) . John does non even want her to compose. & # 8220 ; There comes John, and I must set this off? he hates to hold me compose a word & # 8221 ; ( Gilman 642 ) .
It is besides a direct allusion to Gilman & # 8217 ; s personal experience that the storyteller is sing terrible postpartum depression. Gilman suffered from the same malady after the birth of her ain girl ( Gilman 639 ) . It is interesting that the room her hubby chooses for them, the room the storyteller hatreds, is the baby’s room. The storyteller describes the baby’s room as holding barred Windowss and being & # 8220 ; flagitious & # 8221 ; ( Gilman 641-642 ) . The storyteller & # 8217 ; s response to the room is a farther illustration of her submissive behaviour. & # 8220 ; I don & # 8217 ; t like our room a spot. I wanted one downstairs that opened onto the plaza and had roses all over the window, and such pretty old fashioned chintz hangings! But John would non hear of it & # 8221 ; ( Gilman 641 ) . Although she is practically a captive in the room, she is given no voice in taking or adorning it. She attempts to warrant John & # 8217 ; s intervention of her. & # 8220 ; He is really careful and loving, and barely Lashkar-e-Taibas me stir without particular way. I have a agenda. . . I feel meanly thankless non to value it more & # 8221 ; ( Gilman 641 ) . Even though she knows that composing and socialising would assist her recover faster, she still allows the male figures in her life to rule and command her intervention. & # 8220 ; I sometimes fancy that in my status, if I had less resistance and more society and stimulation? but John says the really worst thing I can make is to believe about my status, and I confess it ever makes me experience bad & # 8221 ; ( Gilman 641 ) .
I believe that the storyteller & # 8217 ; s hubby loves her really much. He is stamp with her and speaks to her in a loving, sometimes child-like mode. However, he evidently does non desire anyone cognizing the extent of his married woman & # 8217 ; s mental unwellness, mentioning to it as a & # 8220 ; impermanent nervous depression? a little hysterical inclination & # 8221 ; ( Gilman 641 ) . I believe this is besides a contemplation of the manner adult females and mental unwellness were perceived in the 19th century. Womans were supposed to allow their work forces take attention of them, and mental unwellness was frequently swept under the rug. The hubby, John, did non desire the stigma of mental unwellness tied to his household. & # 8220 ; He says that no 1 but myself can assist me out of it, that I must utilize my will and self-control and non allow any cockamamie illusions run off with me. ( Gilman 645 ) . In reading this narrative I had to invariably remind myself that society today treats mental unwellness otherwise, and that this was written from a 19th century position.
The storyteller continues to quash her ain demands and let her hubby to rule. Sing the wallpaper in the sleeping room, she writes: & # 8220 ; I ne’er saw a worse paper in my life one of those straggling, showy forms perpetrating every artistic wickedness & # 8221 ; ( Gilman 642 ) . It is besides interesting to observe that the bed in the room is a & # 8220 ; great immoveable bed & # 8221 ; which is & # 8220 ; nailed down & # 8221 ; ( Gilman 644 ) . I wondered if this was a metaphoric mention to her hubby & # 8217 ; s attitude about her unwellness.
As she looks out the window, she can see the garden. She describes flowers, waies, and arbors. All that she sees outside is beautiful. Merely as Gilman uses the room the adult female hates as a metaphor for her mental unwellness, she uses the beautiful garden as a metaphor for the mental wellness the adult female craves. The storyteller & # 8217 ; s hubby besides stifles these ideas. & # 8220 ; I ever fancy I see people waling in these legion waies and arbors, but John has cautioned me non to give manner to visualize in the least. He says that with my inventive power and wont of story-making, a nervous failing like mine is certain to take to all mode of aroused illusions, and that I ought to utilize my good will and good sense to look into the inclination. So I try & # 8221 ; ( Gilman 642 ) .
The more clip she spends in the room, the more haunted with the wallpaper she becomes. In her head, the wallpaper becomes more than merely wallpaper. It takes on
human features. “This paper looks to me as if it knew what a barbarous influence it had” ( Gilman 643 ) !
When the narrative begins the storyteller refers to the house as haunted. This subject is once more brought to the head when she begins depicting the wallpaper. & # 8220 ; There is a recurrent topographic point where the form lolls like a broken cervix and two bulblike eyes stare at you upside down & # 8221 ; ( Gilman 643 ) . Gilman & # 8217 ; s centripetal descriptions are clever. The descriptions are intense and detailed. They make the reader a portion of the narrative, addition suspense, and assist the & # 8220 ; reader & # 8217 ; s perceptual experience of the peculiar sort of insanity that afflicts the storyteller & # 8221 ; ( Cunningham par. 1 ) .
In reading the narrative we are provided non merely elaborate ocular images, but graphic olfactive descriptions as good. We are told:
But there is something else about that paper? the odor! I noticed it the minute we came into the room, but with so much air and Sun it was non bad. Now we have had a hebdomad of fog and rain, and whether the Windowss are unfastened or non, the odor is here.
It creeps all over the house.
I find it vibrating in the dining room, lurking in the parlour, concealing in the hall, lying in delay for me on the stepss.
It gets into my hair.
Even when I go to sit, if I turn my caput all of a sudden and surprise it-there is that odor!
Such a curious olfactory property, excessively! I have spent hours seeking to analyse it, to happen what it smelled like.
It is non bad & # 8212 ; at first, really soft, but rather the subtlest, most abiding olfactory property I of all time met.
In this moistness conditions it is atrocious. I wake up in the dark and happen it hanging over me.
It used to upset me at first. I thought earnestly of firing the house? to make the odor.
But now I am used to it. The lone thing I can believe of that it is like is the colour of the paper! A xanthous odor. ( Cunningham par. 2 ; Gilman 647 )
The combination of Gilman & # 8217 ; s words, and the short jerky sentence construction, combine to let the reader grasp the deepnesss of the storyteller & # 8217 ; s insanity.
In add-on to the sense of odor, the reader is besides captured by the sense of touch. The storyteller tells us: & # 8220 ; The swoon figure buttocks seemed to agitate the form, merely as if she wanted to acquire out. I got up quietly and went to experience and see if the paper did move and when I came back John was awake ( Gilman 645 ) . She farther Tells us: & # 8220 ; The forepart form does travel? and no admiration! The adult female behind shingles it & # 8221 ; ( Gilman 647 ) !
It is through these compelling descriptions, using the reader & # 8217 ; s senses, that Gilman is & # 8220 ; drawing the reader into the storyteller & # 8217 ; s universe. . . these descriptions about absolutely encapsulate what we might all conceive of it is like to be insane & # 8221 ; ( Cunningham par. 5 ) . It is as if the haunting images of the wallpaper mirror the haunting feelings inside the storyteller & # 8217 ; s head. The heroine, unable to openly show her feelings to anyone, begins to see herself through the wallpaper. She imagines a adult female trapped behind the wallpaper, merely as she is trapped in the room and in her head.
The wallpaper, and the barrier it poses to the adult female behind it, as imagined by the storyteller, mirror the storyteller & # 8217 ; s ain ideas about being confined in a room with barricaded Windowss. & # 8220 ; At dark in any sort of visible radiation, in dusk, candle flame, lamplight, and worst of all by moonshine, it becomes bars! The outside form, I mean, and the adult female behind it is every bit apparent as can be & # 8221 ; ( Gilman 646 ) . The heroine is besides behind bars. & # 8220 ; I am acquiring angry. . . but the bars are excessively strong. . . & # 8220 ; ( Gilman 649 ) . The behaviour of the adult female behind the wallpaper mirrors the storyteller & # 8217 ; s behaviour. & # 8220 ; By daytime she is subdued, quiet. I fancy it is the form that keeps her so still. It is so enigmatic. It keeps me quiet by the hr & # 8221 ; ( Gilman 646 ) . The storyteller is besides subdued in the daylight. & # 8220 ; I don & # 8217 ; t kip much at dark, for it is so interesting to watch developments ; but I sleep a good trade during the daylight & # 8221 ; ( Gilman 647 ) .
Another analogue between the actions of the storyteller and the adult female behind the wallpaper is reflected when the storyteller looks out the window and sees & # 8220 ; her in that long shaded lane, crawling up and down. I see her in those dark grape arbors, crawling around the garden. I see her on that long route under the trees, crawling along, and when a passenger car comes she hides under the blackberry vines. I don & # 8217 ; t fault her a spot. It must be really mortifying to be caught crawling by daytime: ( Gilman 648 ) ! The storyteller is showing her ain humiliation in holding to mouse around. & # 8220 ; I ever lock the door when I creep by daytime. I can & # 8217 ; t make it at dark, for I know John would surmise something at one time & # 8221 ; ( Gilman 648 ) . Similarly, while her hubby is off, the storyteller sometimes will & # 8220 ; walk a small in the garden or down that lovely lane, sit on the porch under the roses, . . . & # 8220 ; ( Gilman 644 ) .
As the storyteller realizes the significance of the wallpaper, her life begins to alter. & # 8220 ; Life is much more exciting now than it used to be. You see, I have something more to anticipate, to look frontward to, to watch. I truly do eat better, and am more quiet than I was & # 8221 ; ( Gilman 647 ) .
It is evident that she is still experiencing imprisoned by her hubby. & # 8220 ; I suppose I shall hold to acquire back behind the form when it comes dark, and that is difficult & # 8221 ; ( Gilman 649 ) ! However, she has decided to arise and interrupt free. & # 8220 ; ? I & # 8217 ; ve got out at last, & # 8217 ; said I, ? in malice of you and Jane. And I & # 8217 ; ve pulled off most of the paper so you can & # 8217 ; t set me back & # 8217 ; & # 8221 ; ( Gilman 650 ) !
Because the narrative is slightly autobiographical, Gilman is able to vividly portray a adult female & # 8217 ; s descent into lunacy. She & # 8220 ; wrote the narrative to consequence alteration in the intervention of depressive adult females & # 8221 ; ( Gilman 640 ) . She one time stated that & # 8220 ; It was non intended to drive people brainsick, but to salvage people from being driven brainsick & # 8221 ; ( Anderson par. 10 ) . The narrative brightly depicts a adult female whose sentiments and feelings have ne’er been acknowledged or recognized as valid in the existent universe. The room, and peculiarly the wallpaper she hates so much, go the centre of her universe? her voice. She realizes the adult female in the wallpaper is herself, and is eventually able to interrupt free. Possibly it can wholly be summed up in this exchange: & # 8220 ; John is so pleased to see me better! He laughed a small the other twenty-four hours, and said I seemed to be booming in malice of my wallpaper. I turned it off with a laugh. I had no purpose of stating him it was because of the wallpaper. . . & # 8220 ; ( Gilman 647 ) .
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Cunningham, Iain and Holmes, Douglass. & # 8220 ; Sensory Descriptions in The Yellow Wallpaper. & # 8221 ; 1977. *http: //englishwww.ucla.edu/individuals/mcgraw/wallpaper/senses.htm* ( 19 Sept. 1998 ) .
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