The Unreliable Narrator of The Yellow Wallpaper, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

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Don’t Believe Everything You See
In 1892 Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote a short story known as, “The Yellow Wallpaper”. The story is based on how society treated and viewed females during the late 19th century. It involves an unknown female narrator that is believed to be suffering from temporary nervous depression. The story is conveyed through a biased first person point of view because it presented through the narrators personal diary. In order to treat and cure her from this acute form of depression the narrators physician husband John prescribes her the, “rest-cure”. (Gilman) The, “rest cure” (Gilman) required the narrator, “to forgo intellectual and social stimulation and to eat and sleep indulgently”. (Scott) This meant that the narrator could not do what she loves most and that was writing. However, that did not stop the narrator because the story is conveyed through a biased first person point of view presented through the narrator’s personal diary. The unnamed narrator did not agree with this method and thought, “that congenial work, with excitement and change” (Gilman), would be a more effective cure. However, the prescribed treatment failed and the narrator experiences a dramatic change in her mental stability and begins to lose touch with reality. The reason she begins to lose touch with the real word is because every second the narrator is in that room she becomes more, “adapted to her surrounding’s”. (Scott) It’s essential to understand that as the narrator continuously loses touch with the real world she is developing a better understanding about the inner reality of her life. Through developing an increased awareness of the inner reality of her life the narrator experiences a split in her personality. The split in her personality is crucial because as she’s gradually transforming into the woman in the wall she begins to regularly contradict herself. Gilman uses the split in the unknown female’s personality to depict her as being an unreliable narrator that suffers from something more extreme than temporary nervous depression.
Throughout, “The Yellow Wallpaper” Gilman utilizes the environment and setting of the, “colonial mansion”, (Gilman) to emphasize that the unknown narrator is undependable. The reason the unknown narrator is being interpreted as unreliable is because constantly throughout the story she contradicts herself. The contradictions she makes range from her visual opinions of the room all the way to her emotions about it. The first instance involves with how the narrator first perceived the, “hereditary estate”. (Gilman) From the initial moment she sets her eyes on the mansion the narrator describes it as being, “a haunted house”, that has, “something queer about it”. (Gilman) This quote shows the honest opinions of the unnamed narrator and how strongly she disliked the house prior to her breakdown. However, as the narrator experiences a transformation in her personality she becomes more infatuated with her...

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