Insanity In The Yellow Wallpaper

1404 words - 6 pages

It is often said that artists and writers are touched by a bit of madness, however it could also be said that madness comes from a lack of creativity. The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman tells the story of a woman who is diagnosed with depression and I prescribed with the rest cure. After being left in solitude for a few weeks the narrator starts to go insane and takes her aggression out on the ugly wallpaper in her room. Creativity is a way to turn your thoughts and emotions into something concrete but, when someone is not allowed to be creative these ideas can turn a person mad.
The rest cure was developed by Silas Weir Mitchell in the late 1800s. This remedy was used to help victims of hysteria, neurasthenia, and other nervous illnesses. Many patients and doctors considered this cure worse than the actual disease. Silas Weir Mitchell was the president of the Association of American Physicians in 1887 and from 1908-1909 he became the president of the American Neurological Association. Silas Weir Mitchell discovered and treated a disease called causalgia (today known as CRPS/RSD). He is known as the father of neurology and a pioneer in early scientific medicine. Weir Mitchell is most famous for his use of the rest cure on Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Virginia Woolf. Both women went on to write stories telling the negative affects the rest cure had on patients. Virginia Woolf was an english writer and one of the foremost modernists of the twentieth century. After undergoing the rest cure Virginia wrote a savage satire of it. She was not cured by the rest cure and eventually died from depression when she filled her overcoat with stones and drowned herself in the River Ouse near her home. Gillman also faced the rest cure. Gillman states “ For many years I suffered from a severe and continuous nervous breakdown tending to melancholia- and beyond”. (Gillman) The directions given to her were
“Gillman was sent home from Mitchell's sanitarium after one month, having been pronounced ‘cured’ with the following instructions: ‘Live as domestic a life as possible… Have but two hours intellectual life a day. And never touch pen, brush or pencil as long as you live.” (Korb). Gilman stated that after following this advice she came “perilously close to losing my mind” (Gillman).  Korb says “Gilman claimed a purpose for everything she wrote. The Yellow Wallpaper pointed out the dangers of the medical treatment imposed by Mitchell and other doctors like him” (Korb). The narrator also struggles with depression and his prescribed the rest cure. The rest cure isolates the narrator from creativity. Korb describes “Because the narrator has no physical or spiritual escape from her husband, she must seek relief elsewhere: in The Yellow Wallpaper, and thus in the text she creates as she describes her relationship with the wallpaper”. (Korb) Gilman makes a reference to her personal experiences with Dr. Weir Mitchell when she...

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