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Person Versus Society In Gilman´S The Yellow Wallpaper

887 words - 4 pages

In Charlotte Perkins Gillman’s short story “The Yellow Wallpaper”, the author takes the reader through the terrors of a woman’s psychosis. The story convey to understatements pertaining to feminism and individuality that at the time was only idealized. Gillman illustrates her chronological descent into insanity. The narrators husband John, who is also her physician diagnosed her with “nervous depression” and therefore ordered her to isolate until she recuperates. She is not only deprived of outside contact but also of her passion to write, since it could deteriorate her condition. The central conflict of the story is person versus society; the healthy part of her, in touch with herself clashing with her internalized thoughts of her society’s expectations. In a feminist point of view the central idea pertains to the social confinement that woman undergo due to their society.
Sometimes trying to conform to society’s expectations becomes extremely overwhelming, especially if you’re a woman. Not until recent years have woman become much more independent and to some extent equalized to men. However going back to the 19th century, women were much more restrained. From the beginning we perceive the narrator as an imaginative woman, in tune with her surroundings. The narrator is undoubtedly a very intellectual woman. Conversely, she lives in a society which views women who demonstrate intellectual potential as eccentric, strange, or as in this situation, ill. She is made to believe by her husband and physician that she has “temporary nervous depression --a slight hysterical tendency” and should restrain herself from any intellectual exercises in order to get well (Gilman 487). The narrator was not allowed to write or in any way freely express her thoughts and paradoxically was instructed to “neglect proper self-control” and take pains to help control her (Gilman 488). This simply represents the dictatorship of her male dominating society that wants to repress her intellectual cravings. In the begging of the story her sanity is perceived when she expresses herself, “I disagree with their ideas—I believe that congenial work, with excitement and change, would do me good”, she understands herself and knows what will make her better, yet her society won’t allow it (Gilman 488). Although the narrator tries to give her input, John refuses grant any of her desires, because he believes to be the only one who knows what’s best for her. “I beg of you—never for one instant let that idea enter your mind! There is nothing so dangerous, so fascinating, to a temperament like yours. – Can you not trust me as a physician-? ” (Gilman 493).Subsequently John and the society force the narrator to remain captive in the oppressive environment, where the only escape is...

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