Essay on Charlotte Perkins Gilmans the Yellow Wallpaper

Date:  2022-01-04 07:55:38
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The Yellow Wallpaper is a short story written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Born in July 1860 to Frederick Beecher Perkins, she was the youngest of her siblings. She was the great-grandchild of Lyman Beecher, a Calvinist clergyman who was once regarded to have fathered more brains than any other man in America. Her entire family line was famous for having been activists, some of whom changed the nation's consciousness about slavery. It, therefore, follows that Charlotte grew up to be a key social activist. Consequently, much of her work is based on social change. She is renowned for having contributed immensely to the feminist literary study. Consequently, the narrator in her story- The yellow wallpaper is a woman who is portrayed as a fighter against male dominance. This is the story of a lady who has been denied the joy of staying with her infant child in order to attend to a medical procedure, the detail of which involves pure resting CITATION Ste \p 647 \l 1033 (Stetson 647).

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As the story begins, the narrator appears displeased by the fact that her husband, who happens to also double up as her doctor, does not take her illness seriously. She is further disgusted by the fact that her brother who is also a physician "and also of high standing" echoes her husband's sentiments. She personally disagrees with the remedy for her diagnosis. She actually cares less about whether she is on "phosphates or phosphites whichever it is" but she's definitely mad at being absolutely forbidden to "work" until she gets well again. This persistent low mood is actually a feeling associated with postpartum depression CITATION For11 \p 3626 \l 1033 (Ford-Martin 3626). She actually confesses that whenever she thinks of her condition (despite being warned against doing so by John, her husband), she feels bad. She would like to have the freedom to write, but John would never allow her to do so since she is on ""rest cure"". She, therefore, has to wait till when John is away and she is all alone in order to write. The same John happens to turn down her request to visit her cousins Henry and Julia. She tells of how she cried after failing to persuade her husband on this cause CITATION Ste \p 648 \l 1033 (Stetson 648).

The narrator also has feelings of emptiness and sadness. She ironically describes the house in which she is as "the most beautiful place!" In the real sense, prior to this and even after this statement, she has no sweet words to describe the same. The fact that she starts off by actually calling it a colonial mansion and even further feels that it is a haunted house speaks volumes about her perspective about the ancestral hall. She also exhibits hopelessness and helplessness, both of which are symptoms of postpartum depression. She frequently poses the question what can one do? even as she ponders her next move. She feels the reason as to why she gets frequently angry with John is because of the nervous condition, over which she has no power. She satirically describes John as very careful and loving. In the real sense she feels oppressed by him CITATION Jac \p 2181 \l 1033 (Jacobson 2181).

The narrator behaves in such a way as to hate usual activities. This is yet another sign of postpartum depression. She quickly resigns to hating the room in order to abide in it. What could pass as yellow to everyone else is described as a smoldering unclean yellow and such-like hateful terminologies. At one point, one feels that John actually meant good but he was misunderstood. She also feels rejected by her partner. She does not hesitate to point out that even though she has to dwell in the confines of this ugly place, John's decision to bring her there was actually to the cause of her increased nervous complication CITATION Ste \p 649 \l 1033 (Stetson 649). Apparently, she feels like John actually spends some of the nights out with serious patients since he regards her case as not serious. She also dislikes the idea of sleeping in the very room. No wonder, she would feel so restless as to wake up at night and feel the patterns on the wallpaper.

Her condition starts taking another angle when she looks at the wall and reckons that there is a recurrent spot where the pattern lolls like a broken neck and two bulbous eyes stare at you upside down. Definitely, this is no longer a case of depression but a symptom of psychosis-hallucination CITATION For11 \p 3627 \l 1033 (Ford-Martin 3627). She indeed gets angry at the everlastingness of the same to a point of admitting that she never saw so much expression in an inanimate thing before. She also suddenly feels that even if she never mentions it to them, there are things in that paper that nobody knows but her. She is convinced that behind that outside pattern that everybody sees, there is something which is shaped like a woman stooping down and creeping. This is the height of delusion, which is also another symptom of psychosis CITATION Jac \p 2182 \l 1033 (Jacobson 2182). She also feels that the faint figure has a tendency to shake the pattern, just as if she wanted to get out, whenever she stayed awake. This she visualizes with the help of the moonlight while John is fast asleep. She further exhibits symptoms of psychosis by her description of the smell in the wallpaper. She feels it ""creeps"" all over the house, hovers in the dining-room, skulks in the parlor and even hides in the hall as it lies in wait for just her! One would easily think that she was the only occupant of the nasty house.

Her keen interest in the behavior of the "woman behind the pattern" leads to further evidence of psychosis. As she documents the calmness of the "woman" by day- which coincidentally resonates with her own calmness- and the sudden awakening to life by night, she actually plans to "find it out" before their time at the house elapses! This is a sign of disorganized and unpredictable behavior CITATION For11 \p 3628 \l 1033 (Ford-Martin 3628). She gets so fascinated by the new mission to the extent that she is happy not to be sleeping at night for it is so interesting to watch developments. She observes that the woman gets out during daytime and can actually see her out one of her windows. She stages the climax by wishing there was a rope to tie down the woman just in case she wanted to flee during her capture from the wall. She's so excited, till she wishes she could just jump out of the window in order to astonish John. She eventually tears the papers off the wall in an attempt to free the woman CITATION Ste \p 651 \l 1033 (Stetson 651).

Works Cited

Ford-Martin, Anna Paula. "Psychosis." (2011): 3625-3629.

Jacobson, M. Nadine. "Postpartum Depression." Gale Encyclopedia of Nursing and Allied health 2 (n.d.): 2180-2177.

Johnson, Greg. "Gilman's Gothic Allegory: Rage and Redemption in 'The Yellow Wallpaper'."

Studies in Short Fiction (2007): 521-530.

Stetson, Perkins Charlotte. "The Yellow Wallpaper." (n.d.): 647-656.

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