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12 March 2012 The Irony Of The Mind – Madness Or Sanity – The Yellow Wallpaper

1513 words - 7 pages

When Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” was first published in January of 1892 in the New England Magazine, it was considered a dark chronicle that was protested by a Boston physician (name unknown) in “The Evening Transcript”, a popular newspaper in Boston between 1830 and 1941. This doctor wrote; “such a story ought not to be written, he said; it was enough to drive anyone mad to read it.” It wasn’t until later that the story was realized for the depiction of societal values in an age when women were making their mark in society, both intellectually and politically. The character Gilman portrays is caught between her own artistic expression and that of expected wifehood and ...view middle of the document...

In “The Yellow Wall Paper,” Gilman’s character is supposedly associated with what we now know as post-partum depression. She expresses this in an autobiographical way in her emotional and psychological feelings of rejection from society as a free-thinking woman.
In Gilman’s article from “Why I Wrote the Yellow Wallpaper,” she states; “every kind of creature is developed by the exercise of its functions. If denied the exercise of its functions, it cannot develop in the fullest degree.” (The Foreunner, Gilman Oct.1913). From this vantage point the characters of this story unfold and the infamous “Yellow Wallpaper.”
From the very beginning of “The Yellow Wall Paper,” it is clear that the main character is put in a position she does not want to be in. She is forced to take “the cure” as suggested by her archaic well meaning physician husband and her Dr. S. Weir Mitchell. Her husband John rents a colonial mansion so that the character, the narrator, can recuperate from the hysteria she experienced after the birth of her child. She does what she’s told, however, she senses something “queer” about the place. (p.333).
The character, is assigned a room upstairs that seems to be a former child nursery but highly unlikely when there are bars on the windows and a bed nailed in place. She decides to view her surrounding and is quite aware of what she sees. Through the window she acknowledges the beauty of nature, and allows her imagery and creativity to flourish but her husband John suppresses her creativity. She cannot write, is told to rest and cannot exert herself physically, let alone emotionally. The room has yellow wallpaper. As color plays an important role in the stimulation of the senses, yellow has characteristics of its own. Interestingly enough, the Chakras believe that the color yellow is associated with the solar plexus and deals with identity. In “Color Psychology and Color Therapy by Birren (p.160), yellow is the most difficult color for the eye to take in, people can lose their tempers and it can be overpowering if overused. The yellow in the wallpaper is not the kind of sunny yellow that one might imagine. In actuality, the pattern of the wallpaper is never made clear but only through Gilman’s characters’ interpretation. “The color is repellant, almost revolting a smouldering unclean yellow.” (p. 335). She continues “I never saw so much expression in an inanimate thing before, and we all know how much expression they have! I used to lie awake as a child and get more entertainment and terror out of blank walls and plain furniture than most children could find in a toy store.” (p. 336). She seems to take great pleasure in the fact that she can conjure up images from a blank space. The wallpaper becomes a total playground for her senses beyond comprehension.
She is so bored and tired as she is given an unidentified medication every hour, talks about phosphates, phosphites and elixers which she takes because she is told to. It is...

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