Jane's Psychological Problems In Charlotte Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper

1332 words - 5 pages

Jane's Psychological Problems in Charlotte Gilman’s "The Yellow Wallpaper"

In Charlotte Gilman’s short story "The Yellow Wallpaper," Jane, the main character, is a good example of Sigmund Freud’s Studies In Hysteria. Jane suffers from symptoms such as story making and daydreaming. Jane has a nervous weakness throughout the story.

Jane is a victim of a nervous disorder of the brain called hysteria. She is aware that she suffers from a series of mental and physical disturbances. She says that she has a " temporary nervous depression: -- a slight hysterical tendency- what is one to do?"(2).

According to Freud hysteria is a nervous disorder that causes violent fits of laughter, crying, and imagination. It is a lack of self-control. Jane experiences some of these symptoms. Her imagination takes over her personality a number of times. There are three instances where her creative imagination literally takes over her personality. The first is when she is describing to the reader the so-called nursery. The second instance is her way of talking about "The Yellow Wallpaper." The third is the remarkable ending, where she seems to lose herself in her rebellion against her husband John. Jane’s "nervous weakness" comes over her several times throughout the story, and in the context of Freud’s analysis of hysteria I will distinguish her problems (10).

One problem is that Jane describes to the reader the so-called nursery, but she is actually talking about her bedroom with the barred windows. Jane states, "The windows are barred for little children, and there are rings and things in the walls"(4). I think that she imagined that the rings were a game of some sort for the children that would play in the nursery. In reality, the purpose for the actual rings in the wall were for her hands, so that she would not get out of control or try to escape from her room.

Jane is often irritated from the wallpaper in her room. The wallpaper above her bed is stripped off and this bothers her immensely. She claims, " I never saw a worse paper in my life"(4). In fact, she hates it with great passion by saying "no wonder the children hated it! I should hate it myself if I had to live in this room long"(4). She refers back to the children from her imagination, the children that were living in the so-called nursery before her. Towards the end of the story, Jane learns to hate the room as a result of spending so much of her time in there. She is really disturbed from the patterns of the wallpaper. Jane comments on the patterns, as "a constant irritant to a normal mind"(12) because she thinks that she has a normal mind. The color is "repellent," that is, "almost revolting." She says that "it is dull enough to confuse the eye in following, pronounced enough to constantly irritate and provoke study, and when you follow the lame uncertain curves for a little distance they suddenly commit suicide" (4).

According to Freud, Jane is clearly hallucinating when she...

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