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The Rest Cure: Prescription To Insanity The Yellow Wallpaper By Charlotte Perkins Gilman

1109 words - 4 pages

“She has so long been subject to the disabilities and restrictions, with which her progress has been embarrassed that she has become enervated, her mind to some extent paralyzed; and, like those still more degraded by personal bondage, she hugs she chains. Liberty is often presented in its true light, but it is liberty for man.”-Lucretia Mott Speech “Discourse on Women”. The late 19th century was an era dominated by man where women were held hostage under the confinements of society. However, it also marked a time where women were crossing a threshold of freedom led by those such as Lucretia Mott. Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” is symbolic of this era as it testifies the struggles of women under the strict authority of men. The story is told first person through the narrator who descends into madness as she undergoes “the rest treatment” (a treatment prescribed for nervous disorders at the time) under strict supervision enforced by her husband. Through the power of language and intellectual vigor, Gilman shows that society can force people into unwanted roles and that lack of intellectual stimulation and self expression can lead to insanity.In “The Yellow Wallpaper” many aspects of symbolism are used to let the story take on more that it’s obvious meaning. John, the narrator’s husband symbolizes a society base ton the domineering race of man. He a “physician of high standing”(331) assumes the right to control his wife, leaving her to be treated as a child, dependent and incapable. The narrator is told that she is to take “phosphates or phosphites- whichever it is, and tonics, and journeys, and air, and exercise, and [is] absolutely forbidden to work until [she] [is] well again”(332). Despite recognizing her husband’s sincere efforts she says, “John does not know how much I really suffer. He knows there is no reason to suffer, and that satisfies him”(334). Here, John overlooks her sufferance the way men have overlooked the plight of women. “Personally, [she] [disagrees] with their idea [and]…[believes] that congenial work, with excitement and change would do her good. But what is one to do?”(332) She questions her own ability to express her opinion in relation to her social standing. The narrator is like most women at the time who were discouraged from professions and encouraged to be submissive and domestic at the will of society.Throughout the story, the narrator’s creativity is met with disapproval against John’s rationality. John’s “rest cure” places great limitations on the narrator’s freedom and expression. He imposes great opposition to any form of creativity including the narrator’s writing, thinking that it would speed up the process of her recovery. John’s opposition towards the narrator's imaginative nature impels her to write in secret and to use the...

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