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The Yellow Wallpaper

1167 words - 5 pages

Are asylums meant to shelter the affected persons or to help society flee away from abnormalities that are inevitable in human life? What are the consequences of keeping a person kept captive behind these so called ‘shelters’? These questions are some of the many that are inquired in The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Within the lines of the obscure plot in this short story, the author makes it clear that the unnamed protagonist was not, in fact, insane or suffering from a definitive disease or mental malfunction. However, this ‘mental disorder’ is only a way that the narrator actively rebels against society and how patriarchy has restricted her into becoming a heap of ...view middle of the document...

” (Gilman Wallpaper, 1) The narrator’s relation with her husband eventually deteriorates, which gives away to her confinement, rebellious mind, desire for the forbidden, and irrationality and the breaking of domestic, social and psychological confinements of patriarchal society.
Once the oppression becomes evident Jane begins her conquest to destroy the bonds in which she is withheld in, through the use of her ‘insanity’. Many critics see the acts of narrator, such as ripping off the wallpaper, as pure insanity. One of these critics, Elaine Hedges, claims that, “the defeated narrator had failed to retain her sanity.” (Knight) Even though these thoughts were widely accepted to these predecessors these critics fail to look at the larger theme that the author attempted to portray, that the narrator was committing deliberate acts of rebellion against her husband. This interpretation of the story is verified by the a highly recognized physician, Dr. Brummell Jones, who has described The Yellow Wallpaper as showing only the incipient steps of insanity. (Knight) In fact, after many debates between several literary critics, Denise Knight has concluded that, “the narrator's 'regression' becomes purposeful--a cunning craziness, a militant, politicized madness by which the narrator resists the interiorization of authority" imposed by John and her brother…” (Knight) She also turns very resentful of her husband and society because of the so called “rest cure”, proposed by American neurologist Silas Weir Mitchell in the late 1800s. Because she is "forbidden to work” (Gilman Wallpaper, 1) she produces an internal hate that she experiences throughout the entire short story.
The most convincing piece of literary analysis, after the book was published, was from the author herself, Charlotte Gilman. After several years of writing the story The Yellow Wallpaper Gilman released her essay, “Why I Wrote The Yellow Wallpaper”, in which she stated that she had a nervous break down herself and wrote the story to, “to save people from being driven crazy.” (Gilman Why, 1) In addition, in several of Gilman’s personal journals and letters to her husband, Charles Walter Stetson, she shows an apparent anger towards her husband, and blames him for putting her in a sanitarium. With these two pieces of writing directly from the author it is evident that in her story she is portraying herself as the...

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