A Critical Analysis Of The Yellow Wallpaper By Charlotte Perkins Gilman

1448 words - 6 pages

A Critical Analysis of The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

'The Yellow Wallpaper' written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is a
riveting story of a dejected woman locked away as if she were insane.
Her passion is to write and by doing so we are able to follow her on a
journey in which she is victimized by those closest to her. The
significance of the story is tremendous as it delves into the
underlying issues of 'a woman's place' and feminism in the 19th
century. The story not only gave an insight into the public perception
of mental illness but it later caused a famous psychiatrist, Silas
Weir Mitchell to alter his treatment of neurasthema.

As the story begins, the woman-whose name we never learn-tells of her
depression and how it is dismissed by her husband and brother who are
both medical practitioners. "You see, he does not believe I am sick!
And what can one do?" We are able to see that the narrator has
maintained the traditional patriarchal feelings, as many women and men
did in 19th century, where women are discouraged from venturing out of
their 'given sphere', due to the political makeup of the era. It
becomes apparent that her mind was alluding to this point by the way
she speaks about her husband, "John laughs at me, of course, but one
expects that." The structure of this sentence highlights the male
laughing and the woman acquiescing, showed by the short sentence and
the full stop - silencing any of her thoughts and opinions. An example
of the dominant submissive relationship between them. He treats her as
if she was a child and he was the controlling, domineering, yet loving
parent. "What is it, little girl?' he said. 'Don't go walking about
like that - you'll get cold.'"

A major theme in "The Yellow Wallpaper" is that solitary confinement
and exclusion from the public results in insanity. The use of imagery
and setting helps illustrate this theme throughout the story. The
unnamed protagonist in this story suffers from a nervous disorder
which is enhanced by her feeling of being trapped within a room. The
setting of the vast colonial mansion and particularly the nursery room
with barred windows provides an image of loneliness and seclusion
experienced by the protagonist. This is also again portrayed in the
description of the garden and the uses of extended metaphors, 'for
there are hedges and walls and gates that lock'. The hedges and walls
are images for the boundaries that her husband has imposed and the
fact the gates lock, show her isolation from the outside world.
Synatsthesia is used to emphasize her confusion, 'there is a delicious
garden', and the way in which she describes the garden gives us the
impression that everything should be prim and proper with order and
regulation, something that she has failed to accomplish. Another
significant...

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