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The Yellow Wallpaper Reaction

796 words - 4 pages

Women in the Victorian era faced many challenges. However, these challenges were subtle. To the outside it appeared as if many middle and upper class white women lived the ideal life: the hardworking husband, respectable children, and a wonderful house; the perfect life and the perfect family. What people didn’t realize in that period was that women faced many hardships dealing with things such as mental health and gender roles. The short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, successfully demonstrates how madness and gender play an integral role in the lives of women during this period.
“The front pattern does move - and no wonder! The woman behind shakes it! Sometimes I think there are a great many women behind, and sometimes only one, and she crawls around fast, and her crawling shakes it all over. Then in the very ' bright spots she keeps still, and in the very shady spots she just takes hold of the bars and shakes them hard.”(8, Gilman) This quote from the short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” stuck out to me because it embodies the true meaning of madness and gender in women during the Victorian era. The way that the narrator describes this situation gives key to two of the major themes in the short story, and these themes help create a dynamic story.
The most obvious theme in “The Yellow Wallpaper” is madness. Through the narrator’s actions and thoughts, we see how she descends into a path of insanity. In the quote above, the narrator describes the movement of a supposed woman behind the yellow wallpaper. She claims that the pattern on the wall is moving because of a woman. I appreciate the imagery that Gilman places in this passage making it very descriptive. It permits me to actually experience what the narrator is seeing, almost making it true in a sense. To be honest, when I was reading this passage, I got so caught up in the words that I started to believe her making myself a little mad in the process questioning both me and the narrator’s sanity. The mere fact that I was able to experience this really helped me comprehend how madness was portrayed in the short story. It also allows me to understand her freedom at the end. Although the narrator/the woman was...

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