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The Yellow Wallpaper 5

1557 words - 6 pages

Trapped Without and Within "The Yellow Wallpaper", by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, tells the story of a woman trapped in her own life. Set in the 1800's, a time when women and men's roles were strictly defined by society, the woman reveals her true to desire to break free from the confines of her marriage and her life. All the while, she experiences an extreme sense of guilt and shame for her negative view of her life, consciously repressing her innermost desires and joys. Her feelings are revealed through her bizarre relationship with the wallpaper in her room in the house she and her husband are renting for the summer. She develops an illogical perception of the wallpaper, ugly though it may be, symbolically putting her own views of herself onto it. Eventually, the woman loses all ability to distinguish reality from illusion and completely loses her mind. Gilman suggests to the reader that by accepting the norms and roles of society and thus repressing one's true desires and feelings can only lead to a loss of identity and sanity. This attitude is brought to light in the reader's mind through observance of the woman's increasing mental instability as she gives more and more life to the wallpaper each time she resumes writing.At the beginning of her story, the woman reveals much about herself and the life she lives. She has a husband, John, who is a physician and seems to be more of a father than a companion. It is also learned that she suffers from a problem with depression, deemed a "slight hysterical tendency" by her husband and accepted by her (425). Her secret opinion that the reason why she is sick and cannot get better is because her husband does not believe she is sick gives the reader the first insight into the woman's true self. Almost ashamed to even think that it is her husband's inability to accept her illness, the woman turns the problem back on herself. She proceeds to say that she gets "unreasonably angry" with her husband and is "basely ungrateful", and that she must take pains to control her emotions. Leaving much to be questioned in the reader's mind as to the health of her marriage, she abandons the topic and instead describes the house. All is well until she gets to the room where she and her husband are staying. This room's wallpaper evokes a sense of anger and passion from the woman as she calls it "sprawling", "flamboyant", "dull", "lame", and "uncertain" (426). Such strongly emotive words to describe such an inanimate object draw the reader to wonder if it is really the wallpaper which she feels about so deeply. One can see the correlation between the words describing the wallpaper and the feelings she seems to imply about herself earlier in her story. She quickly abandons her writings as she hears her husband approaching for fear he will be angry, introducing the reader to a sense of how extensively she represses her needs and desires to do what her husband wants.The next time the woman writes, the reader senses a slight...

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