Critical Analysis Essay On The Yellow Wallpaper

Analysis of The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Gilman

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Analysis of The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Gilman

The "Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Gilman is a great story about the repression of women in the late 1800's but is still representative of issues faced by women today. She writes from her own personal experiences and conveys a message that sometimes in a male dominated society women suffer from the relentless power that some men implement over women.
The narrator is suffering from a mild depression that her physician husband has prescribed complete bed rest in order for her to recover. During their summer vacation, she is confined to a room at the top of the house where she can see the world passing her by day in and day out. Her brother who is also a physician concurs with her husband's prescription leaving her with no option but to succumb to the torment of being left alone in the room with the yellow wallpaper.
She is left with no choice but to stare at the wallpaper endlessly and begins to see things within the pattern. She insists there is a woman behind the paper "and she is all the time trying to climb through. But nobody could climb through that pattern-it strangles so" (667). This is representative to women's power being "strangled" by man and that there are women everywhere trying to escape and break free from the suppression and she sees herself as one of those woman behind the wallpaper creeping around trying to get out.
The narrator tears and rips at the wallpaper by day to release the image from behind the pattern that haunts her at night. During the day she refrains from looking out the windows because "there are so many of those creeping women" and she begins to "wonder if they all came out of the wallpaper" as she did (668). She represents the struggle of being so close to freedom from the dominating male society but not able to free her spirit from confines of her own world just yet.

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To suppress a social being, as women very much are, is to suppress the spirit and soul of that person. The narrator was a product of society that keeps women at the lowest segment and she ultimately prevails over her husband, as well as herself, in freeing her soul and providing inspiration to other women to go ahead creep around openly and freely in order to save their sanity.

The Yellow Wallpaper Summary

The yellow wallpaper is a short story in literature. It is short, but it is difficult. It is like a piece of gray lead, fit in the palm of your hand, from which the whole hand inexorably pulls down. A young woman, suffering from a nervous breakdown, comes with her husband John to a house in a quiet, cozy corner with the aim of getting a little medical treatment. Something strange begins to happen to her in this house. It is an autobiographical story. Charlotte Gilman survived postpartum depression, and she did not like the treatment of this phenomenon. Therefore, she gives her heroine the same. Charlotte Gilman was locked in the rooms and deprived even a pen and paper in order not to worry. It is all the same with the woman trapped in the room. But Charlotte managed to escape from this oppression, and the heroine did not.

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Society and psychiatry at that time very clearly divided the treatment of men and women. If a man began to suffer from anguish, then he was instructed to be distracted, entertained, practiced, spent more time in companies and be as active as possible. But this did not refer to women. The woman, on the other hand, was instructed to live herself alive in a sterile ball to prevent any experience from penetrating into it. This meant a complete rejection of physical and mental activity. Now, this method of treatment sounds absurd. Nevertheless, the husband of the main heroine of the story who was the doctor himself does not possess the vision of a seer and faithfully believes in all the achievements of medicine of that time. The unnamed narrator is trapped in a room with yellow wallpaper, which drives her mad. This is a completely repulsive, faceless, oppressive, suffocating room with yellow wallpaper and barred windows. The color is so nasty that it starts to cause hallucinations. The picture is deformed, flowing from one form to another, and the play of shadows, which takes away the mind, begins. It is a full immersion in the Hysterics. Behind the most common curve, the heroine sees something unimaginable, distinct figures, faces, hear a specific smell; eyes focus on something concrete, slowly turning the vision into a tangible dense substance. And all this is because the husband does not want to listen to her when his wife asks him to change the room. He does not believe her. The society says that these pills treat the flu, and they cure. Until recently, there were a thousand different diseases under the general name "fever," and now everyone has learned to distinguish and heal. Why not believe the same society, which claims that all women's neuroses are treated this way? To some extent, the society is also guilty in this situation. If it were free and open, then the wife would not be afraid to tell her husband about what is happening to her, but it never even came to her mind to share with him horrific stories about what was happening around her because it is not customary to talk about such things. Her husband is on the other side of the barricade. The husband comes home, sees that his wife has eaten well (what else did she have to do besides paranoia?) and rejoices that the therapy helps. And his wife smiles and is silent, occasionally snorting in the shadow on the wallpaper. On a couple of pages of the story, we gradually go into insanity together with the main character. And now she sees on the wallpaper is not just mugs, and the woman who creeps, tries to escape out of the patterns of abstraction, breaks out, chews furniture, shadows crawling on peripheral vision, in the garden, again behind the wallpaper, faster and faster, and now there are many women and she is one of them. This woman behind the wallpaper, those women behind the wallpaper is the main character. Therefore, she can not leave this room, even when it's time to leave home. She herself writes that she wants to help a woman get out of there, but since she's all mixed up, in fact, she is trying to break through, although she is already inside. And then no bed, screwed to the floor, or the body of a fallen husband without feelings, which prevents fast-crawling quickly around the room, will help.

The yellow wallpaper is one of the terrible stories I have ever read. It is interesting to think what will happen next. Surely, a woman will need serious treatment from a psychiatrist, more serious than letting in a quiet house, and her husband will read her diary. Would he have blamed everything on the fact that she was too sick initially to recover? Would he continue to bend the line of modernity and would say that if it had not written these notes, but just rest, would she have recovered? Or would my husband have written a couple of letters to the professors who advertise such methods of treatment? Charlotte Gilman wrote such letters; only they were left unattended.

Works Cited

  • Bak, John S. Escaping the Jaundiced Eye: in Charlotte Perkins Gilman's “The Yellow Wallpaper”, Studies in Short Fiction, Vol.: 31 (1), 1994
  • Crewe, Jonathan. “Queering 'The Yellow Wallpaper’? Charlotte Perkins Gilman and the Politics of Form”, Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature (Feminism) 14.2, 1995.
  • Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. “The Yellow Wallpaper”, New York: The Feminist Press, 1973.
  • Hume, Beverly A. Managing Madness in Gilman's “The Yellow Wall-Paper”, Studies in American Fiction, Vol.: 30 (1), 2002.
  • Fleissner, Jennifer L. “The Work of Womanhood in American Naturalism”, Differences. Vol.: 8 (1), 1996.
  • Knight, Denise. “The Reincarnation of Jane: `Through This': Gilman's Companion to `The Yellow Wallpaper,” Women's Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal 20, 1992.
  • Lanser, Susan S. “Feminist Criticism, 'The Yellow Wallpaper,' and the Politics of Color in America”, Feminist Studies 15.3, 1989.
  • Schopp-Schilling, Beate. “‘The Yellow Wallpaper’: A Rediscovered 'Realistic' Story.” American Literary Realism 8, 1975 . Full text
  • Smith, Lansing Evans. “Myths of Poesis, Hermeneusis, and Psychogenesis: Hoffmann, Tagore, and Gilman”, Studies in Short Fiction, Vol.: 34 (2), 1997.

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