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Essence Of Insanity Essay

2188 words - 9 pages

Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s literary work “The Yellow Wallpaper” expresses a dominating relationship between a husband and a compliant wife and her gradual decent into insanity. The wife, suffering from postpartum depression, is secluded from societal influences in attempts to return her to a healthier state of mind. She is not allowed to write or think in her isolated room and over a course of three months becomes more dysfunctional as she is entrapped in what she describes as a former nursery. Her determination to go against her husband’s and physician’s restrictions ultimately makes her surrender into madness because it symbolizes her escape from oppression and resistance from the treatment she is subjected to. Critics may claim that the insanity that the wife suffers from was not the cause of her treatments but existed early in her childhood and that the room in which she occupies is in an insane asylum. However, over the course of time her seclusion makes her fixate on yellow wallpaper in her room. Eventually her fascination of the wallpaper becomes an obsession and she begins to fantasize of imprisoned women behind the paper. By the end of the story she can no longer distinguish fiction from reality and eventually looses any sanity that she held in the beginning of the story. Additionally, the isolated treatments provided by her husband plays a great role in her breakdown and her animalistic behaviors exhibited upon her husband’s return.
From the beginning of the story it is clear that John, the husband and physician, is attempting to seclude his wife from societal influences and jail her from escaping his control and treatment methods. The narrator describes the physical confinements of the colonial mansion to have a disturbing appearance and to be three miles out of town. The landscape of the estate symbolizes seclusion with walls that surround the confinement and locked gates. The garden hedges and the grape covered arbors further symbolize her being chained to her surroundings. She is further isolated when she is placed in a bare, prison-like nursery on the second floor away from the beauty of the first floor’s roses and open piazza. The window presents a beautiful scenic outlook of a bay and the garden, however, the windows are barred which reinforce isolationism for she cannot physically appreciate the beauty. The furniture in her room is nailed to the floor suggesting that she cannot exhibit any creativity or ideas of her own. When the narrator expresses her opinion about the strange and ghostly appearance of the mansion to her husband he is quick to tell her she is feeling was a “draught”(Gilman, 1892, p.416) and further confines her when he shuts the windows to prevent her from discovering other oddities about the mansion. Ironically, John said that he wanted her to absorb fresh air and sunshine while living in the nursery room, but he ends up shutting the windows preventing her from obtaining clean air and instead of...

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