Analysis Of Charlotte Gilmans' "The Yellow Wallpaper"

1249 words - 5 pages

The Yellow Wallpaper is a first-person narrative, which on one hand can be very limiting in what information is revealed to the reader. Not only can this single voice remember facts differently than other witnesses, the reader must realize that the narrator may not even be telling the truth. On the other hand, the first-person perspective gives a sense of "knowing" the narrator, by being able to read their thoughts. By writing the story as a first-person account in journal form, the reader gets a first hand look at the thoughts of the narrator. There is no reason for lies or deceit as the journal is a trusted friend. What telling the story this way loses are the thoughts of those around the narrator. We don't really know what John is thinking or what drives him to make the decisions he does regarding his wife's physical and mental health.The story uses symbolism throughout, from the description of the room she is in, to the descriptions of her surroundings. The author goes through great pains to project that this woman is imprisoned and held beyond her will. The estate itself has "hedges and walls and gates that lock, and lots of separate little houses for the gardeners and people...I never saw such a garden, large and shady, full of box-bordered paths..." all relating to containers, enclosures or cells. The deeper meaning is the confinement of Jane, and her need for escape. This in not only a story of madness, it is a story about a woman who is not allowed to think on her own behalf. She has little to no input in family matters or even matters concerning her own health. She is almost forced, by those around her, to sit idly with nothing to do but go crazy. As a young boy, the editor probably would not have picked up on the fact that the woman in the story is not just mad, she is a victim. Not the victim of a violent crime but really of neglect. If the editor is embarrassed later in life about reading this story to his mother, I can only think that she was neglected in her marriage as well.On the surface, to a young child it could be interpreted as a funny story because of its "madness." However, the meaning is too deep for one of this age to consider the mental illness that had declined from what was probably post partum depression to a deeper level of mental illness. He must have felt some embarrassment once he learned the true meaning of the story and the pain of mental illness which was the intended message.When the narrator explains that she is not allowed to write, I expected her husband to catch her in the midst of writing and punish her, just as he threatens to send her to another doctor for diagnosis. There is a battle of wills between his prescription for her illness, and her own desires to write and in a sense publish her experiences. What's interesting is that the narrator is afraid to be caught writing. Her husband does not necessarily forbid her from writing or using her imagination, she writes "He says that with my imaginative...

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