24 February 2005
No Work and No Play Makes Jane a Dull Girl
Jane in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” was “touched” as some say long before she was prescribed, and administered the “rest cure” by her husband for her then unknown ailment now called postpartum depression. The boredom and isolation of this cure only allowed her mind to venture farther down a dark and winding corridor of insanity.
Jane has recently had a child and is experiencing what we know today as postpartum depression. Back in the 1800's doctors had no understanding of these symptoms, so they chalked it all up to a temporary nervous depression. This was cured by a treatment called the “rest cure” popularized by Dr. S. Weir Mitchell. This remedy consisted mainly of isolation and bed rest. We now know that this does nothing to promote a healthy mind or body. But, at the time this was the best-known cure.
As a child Jane had hallucinations, “I used to lie awake as a child and get more entertainment and terror out of blank walls and plain furniture than most children could find in a toy-store.”(Gilman 593). This sort of behavior is more than just your average child’s rampant imagination. This is truly the sound of someone who is delusional and needs some form of psychological counseling.
This overly active quasi delusional behavior followed Jane to adulthood, and was noticed but dismissed as pure silliness by her husband even before the baby came about, “... he says that
Tyer 2 with my imaginative power and habit of story-making, a nervous weakness like mine is sure to
lead to all manner of excited fancies...”(Gilman 592) Anytime Jane acted a little bit weird he would just say it was her hyperactive imagination at work again. Little did he know the depths of her problems that were to become evident over the next three months.
The demons in her mind first began to attack her psyche about two weeks into her stay at the house. She regressed into her child like mind state once again when confined to her room. Jane begins to obsess upon the wall paper which she finds hideously fascinating. She stared at it endlessly finding different violent shapes and images, “There is a recurrent spot where the pattern lolls like a broken neck and two bulbous eyes stare you upside down.” (Gilman 593) This is the same sort of behavior she exhibited as a child in her room. The images in the wallpaper just keep getting more intensely twisted as time progresses. She started noticing indistinct...