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The Yellow Wallpaper

1027 words - 4 pages

Driving Mrs. Crazy "The Yellow Wallpaper," by Charlotte Perkins Gilman was written in the late 1800's during the time when a woman's voice was muted by society. Gilman uses this short story as a way to portray how a woman is seen as insignificant for anything other than childbearing. The severity of the male's opinion of a female's role is taught by Gilman to be a failure. After reading Gilman's story, I have come to the conclusion that the obvious wallpaper was not her main reason for slipping into insanity. The narrator's husband, John intrigues me; his behavior and attitude toward his wife disgust me. He quickly assumes the role of a patronizing, controlling husband who allows his career as a doctor to abort his position as a caring and concerned husband. While the wallpaper seems to trap the narrator, John is the true cause of her captivity and eventual insanity.In "The Yellow Wallpaper," "the dominant/submissive relationship between an oppressive husband and his submissive wife pushes her from depression into insanity" ("Dom./Sub."1). Gilman's narrator is seen as being someone trapped mentally and physically by her husband, which is evident from the beginning of the story (Korb 3). Small descriptions of her being neglected and ignored can be detected in many lines of the story. For instance, the narrator asks John if she can have a room downstairs that Wells 2 opens on the piazza, but he will not hear of it. This shows the reader that Gilman's narrator is striving for some space of her own, but the room that she desires does not have any room nearby for John to sleep. Instead of her requests being filled, John takes control and places her in the upstairs, a place where she is disconnected from the rest of the home. The narrator immediately recognizes her captivity in writing that, "John hardly lets me stir without special direction" (Korb 3).Once the narrator has time to feel the nature of the room, the wallpaper seriously disturbs her. Her husband, however, once again ignores her cries and refuses to give in to her fancies. John at this point becomes a character that not only ignores her but also puts himself first. He is unwilling to admit that his wife might have a serious illness ("Dom./Sub."1). This is made obvious when he tells her that to change the wallpaper would be absurd because then the bedstead, the barred windows and the gate at the head of the stairs would have to be changed. That would be too much trouble for him (Korb 3).Even though the narrator recognizes her captivity, does she really realize her husband's need for control? If she does recognize his controlling behavior, she never confronts him. Instead she outwardly relies on John's advice. By relying on John, she feels she is preserving her sanity, a word defined by John, because she does not have the energy to...

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