Sebastian 1 The Yellow Wallpaper Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” shows the readers what happens when a woman is not allowed any mental stimulus or creative expression. The narrator in the story is manipulated by her husband, John…
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By taking her away from things that are important to her, such as her ability to read and write, John causes the narrator to become insane. Although The Yellow Wallpaper has all the elements of a fictional short story such as plot, setting, characters and a common point of view, the story gives us an insight into the author’s world and time, especially the subjugated role of woman in the 19th century. Gilman’s short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” begins when the main character, an unnamed woman, her husband, their newborn baby and her sister-in-law go to a rented summer house. The house, especially the room the narrator stays in, is the setting of the story. The story takes place at about the time it was written, the late 19th century. At the beginning of the story, the narrator is suffering from postpartum depression, and the summer house will function as a place for her to recuperate. The narrator feels uneasy in the rented mansion and wishes to spend her time writing and socializing. She is of the opinion that activity and interesting work will help her condition. However, the narrator’s physician husband, John, forbids her from engaging in any type of physical activity and does not even allow her to see her baby. This causes the narrator to feel lonely and bored. The conflict results in the narrator’s repression. She begins her secret journal, Sebastian 2 writing about her thoughts. As the narrator is forced to lie in bed all day and rest, she becomes entranced by the yellow wallpaper in her room and tries to decode its design. First, the narrator sees the wallpaper as ugly. Next, she sees patterns and shapes in it and finally, she sees a woman trapped behind it and trying desperately to get out from it. The climax of the story is when the narrator who has gone completely crazy, tears off the wallpaper so that she can never be put back into her prison. When John comes home, he finds the door to his bedroom locked. Later, John sees his wife creeping on the floor and faints. At the conclusion of the story, the narrator continues to strip off the wallpaper, convinced that she has found freedom at last. The narrator who is unnamed in the story is the protagonist. She is a new mother and the wife of a doctor. When she suffers from nervous depression, she and her husband rent a country house so that she can rest and recover. She is confined to a room that used to be a nursery. Despite her love for writing, her husband, John, does not allow her to read, write or engage in any mental activity. “He hates me to write a word”, she says. The narrator, however, has a different opinion: “Personally, I believe that congenial work, with excitement and change, would do me good. But what is one to do?” (Gilman). The narrator is feeling trapped in a marriage that does not allow her freedom to express herself. Thus, she begins to write a secret journal and becomes obsessed with the yellow wallpaper. First, she sees the soiled, ripped and an unclean yellow wallpaper. Then, she notes, “But there is something else about the paper – the smell! …The only thing I can think of that it is like, is the color of the paper! A yellow smell” (Gilman). The smell shows the progression towards insanity. She is first bothered by the sight of the pattern and now the smell. Her mind has completely overpowered her senses, making her believe these things. Eventually, she associates herself with the woman who appears to be behind bars or in a Sebastian 3 cage. Her final act of
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The story happens mostly in the room with the yellow wallpaper. The yellow wallpaper eventually evolves into a character, wherein the main character, the narrator, sees a woman caged within the wallpaper.
Being a student, the author himself has experienced depression quite similar to the woman in The Yellow Wallpaper. But he said that he tried to seek distraction from friends, music, and available entertainment from the internet. And these activities take him off the unhealthy state of his mind and psyche.
Gilman discusses her "rest-cure" prescription prescribed by Dr. Weir Mitchell. She explains why this prescription, along with her husband John, may have driven her mad. Gilman also addresses how the narrator is in a little room covered in yellow wallpaper which makes her feel isolated in addition to her madness.
The entire story takes place in the small yellow bedroom the woman has been placed in as a means of giving her the rest and quiet she needs. As the story progresses, the woman begins to recognize faces and figures in the wallpaper of the room,
The title is very important in the context of the story. The author’s use of this particular title portrays the great talent and creative skills that she possesses and her amazing ability to visualize things in an abstract manner. The title of the story, The Yellow Wallpaper, is well suited to the ideas expressed by the author.
The author describes that this woman completely loses her mind by the end of the story, which is seen to happen in stages as she begins to recognize the faces and figures of other women trapped within the ugly pattern of the old yellow wallpaper. The imagery of this wallpaper begins to take on a life of its own in the mind of the woman.
Some of the stylistic devices that enhance the flow of the story include symbolism, imagery, and allegory. The author also uses various linguistic techniques to create meaning and improve on the quality of the story.
The main female characters of both the stories fall victims to different types of chauvinism; in ”Desiree’s Baby” to racial chauvinism while in “The Yellow Wallpaper” to the gender chauvinism. Dramatic irony appears when both the stories inflict mental injuries to the wives in a specific society.