Character Analysis Of Charlotte Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper"

1078 words - 4 pages

In Charlotte Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper" the main character is a woman who might have been slowly slipping into a state of insanity, but her husband caused the process to escalate as quickly as it did. Gilman's insanity was not inflicted maliciously or intentionally, but grew out of erroneous ideas. She was forced to listen and accept the diagnosis of men without the ability to express what she felt her condition was. Women of that time were oppressed by men and by society, and yet no matter how much of her freedom was removed by them, Charlotte continued to write and keep her own secret thoughts on everything around her. She refused to completely give up her spirit and freedom. The result of being in complete solitude created an environment that left the main character no chance to maintain her sanity.Gilman's insanity was a result of an uneducated diagnosis. Her husband, and brother, had believed in the treatment of "rest cure" which was developed by S. Weir Mitchell, a Philadelphia physician. This treatment required confining the patient to a hospital or remote residence in complete isolation, putting them on bed rest, increasing their food intake, iron supplements, and exercise. When Gilman's husband, John, moved them into the new house he immediately took to the "rest cure" treatment. Charlotte was put in a room upstairs, away from everyone. Although he shared a room with her, he was hardly ever home and would not allow her to leave the room at all. All she had was a small window to help connect her with the outside world. So what did Charlotte do? She closed her mouth and wrote it all down in her journal, which she kept secret because that too would have been taken from her. When her food intake was increased, she quickly learned how maneuver around that issue. She started sleeping all day and eating well when John was home in the evenings. Her weight never changed nor did her attitude, at least not for the better. Just because she put on this fake show for him, he bought into it and assumed her "condition" was getting better.The previous paragraph proves my next point. Women of that time were oppressed by men and by society. The diagnosis was accepted without any thought because it was the idea of a man - which meant it had to be correct. Charlotte was forced to listen and accept the diagnosis of men without the ability to express what she felt her condition was. This could quite possibly be one of the main reasons for her state of mind by the end of the story. She could not share her thoughts with others and could only believe or related to what she had written. As a result, she began to feel a sense of communication and loyalty with the wallpaper and the woman she imagined was imprisoned behind it. Over time Charlotte became that woman and started living in her own world (locking herself in the bedroom to help free the captured woman and no longer trying to be a mother or a wife). There was no...

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