Madness In Yellow Wallpaper

3185 words - 13 pages

Sliding Towards Madness in Gilman?s The Yellow Wallpaper Charlotte Perkins Gilman?s ?The Yellow Wallpaper,? relays to the reader something more than a simple story of a woman at the mercy of the limited medical knowledge in the late 1800?s. Gilman creates a character that expresses real emotions and a psyche that can be examined in the context of modern understanding. ?The Yellow Wallpaper,? written in first person and first published in 1892 in the January edition of the New England Magazine, depicts the downward spiral of depression, loss of control and competence, and feelings of worthlessness which lead to greater depression and the possibility of schizophrenia. This paper will explore two possible causes of the main character?s madness. These causes are the subjugating treatment inflicted upon her by her husband, and the idea that the main character has clinical schizophrenia. Additionally, this paper will examine the parallels of Gilman?s true-life experiences as compared to those of the main character.The beginning emphasis will be on the interaction and roles of the husband and wife in ?The Yellow Wallpaper?, which are based on the male dominated times of the late 1800?s. The main character, a woman whose name is never revealed, tells us of the mental state of mind she is under and how her husband and his brother, both physicians, dismiss it. "You see, he does not believe I am sick! And what can one do? If a physician of high standing, and one's own husband, assures friends and relatives that there is really nothing the matter with one but temporary nervous depression -- a slight hysterical tendency -- what is one to do?" (671). The doctors seem completely unable to admit that there might be more to her condition than just stress and a slight nervous disorder even when a summer in the country and weeks of bed-rest have not helped. It might be thought that it is a simple matter of a loving husband being overprotective of his ill wife, but this assumption is quickly washed away by his arrogant attitudes, combined with his callous treatment of her which only serve to compound the problem. ?At first he meant to repaper the room, but afterwards he said that I was letting it get the better of me, and that nothing was worse for a nervous patient than to give way to such fancies? (673).John treats his wife in a manner that gives her reason to doubt herself and her capabilities. She has been forbidden to do certain things by her husband John the details of which are never explicitly stated, but it can be assumed that it is because of her frailty that some of these activities have been taken away from her. Prohibited to work and not being able to contribute to the household as a proper wife and new mother she begins to feel helpless: "So I? am absolutely forbidden to "work" until I am well again. Personally, I disagree with their ideas." (671). Additionally, she has been told not to write: "There comes John, and I must put this away -- he hates to...

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