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Analyzing "The Yellow Wallpaper" By Charlotte Perkins Gilman Regarding Mental Illness In Society Past And Today

2674 words - 11 pages

Illnesses of all kinds happen to people everyday. These people go to doctors, decide on treatment plans and eventually some do get better. Doctors, nurses and hospitals seem to create miracles daily with their advances to the medical profession in the 21st century. The main character in "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman could have benefited immensely from these findings but she was not born into our time and must make due with what she was given in hers. The question becomes does she really get better or does she just pretend to adhere to the advice given to her to cause the façade of recovery to protect herself from the stigma that attaches itself so strongly to mental illness and the people who suffer from it?I wonder if the medical profession has advanced at all in the treatment of a patient who may have depressive or mentally unstable symptoms but are otherwise functioning. Are they all getting bad advice and being labeled crazy when they are really just normal people going through hard times in their lives or is the medical community correct in their analysis that these people will never be altogether sane?In the early 1900's when "The Yellow Wallpaper" was written modern medicine was very limited in its knowledge and resources. Doctor's did the best they could with the tools they had at their disposal but today's modern medical advances are leaps and bounds above anything the professionals of the early 1900's could even dream of. In a sense this may be where some of the confusion about treatment came from. The advice and "cures" prescribed were intended to treat the disorders at hand but lots of times they didn't come close or in fact caused opposite results. Blame cannot be put onto the doctors and scientists of the time. They were only working with what they were given and no harm or ill advice was meant intentionally."The Yellow Wallpaper" is a story we read in English II that kept me interested and entertained from beginning to end. The basic story line is of a woman living in the nineteenth century who has become quite bored with her existence. Her husband threatens that if she doesn't get well soon he will have her see Dr. Weir Mitchell, a prominent professional of the time, to prescribe one of his "rest cures." In those days, especially for women, rest seemed to be the most widely prescribed cure for almost all illnesses. If a woman was stressed, they prescribed rest, if a woman was having problems in her marriage they advised that she get more sleep to be better equiped to deal with her husband, and if she exhibited signs of psychological problems she must go right to bed and not think of anything else for days.The advice she is given by her husband, who is also a physician, is the same, to relax and do nothing strenuous, this includes writing in her journal. She has no recourse but to listen because he is her husband and a woman must not go against her husbands word, especially if she wanted to stay married...

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