"The Yellow Wallpaper"A Journey Into Insanity, By Charlotte Perkins Gilman,

948 words - 4 pages

In 'The Yellow Wallpaper', by Charlotte Perkins Gilman,the dominant/submissive relationship between an oppressivehusband and his submissive wife pushes her from depressioninto insanity.Flawed human nature seems to play a great role in herbreakdown. Her husband, a noted physician, is unwilling toadmit that there might really be something wrong with hiswife. This same attitude is seen in her brother, who is alsoa physician. While this attitude, and the actions takenbecause of it, certainly contributed to her breakdown; itseems to me that there is a rebellious spirit in her.Perhaps unconsciously she seems determined to prove themwrong.As the story begins, the woman -- whose name we neverlearn -- tells of her depression and how it is dismissed byher husband and brother. 'You see, he does not believe I amsick! And what can one do? If a physician of highstanding, and one's own husband, assures friends andrelatives that there is really nothing the matter with onebut temporary nervous depression -- a slight hysterical* * * * * Roberts 2tendency -- what is one to do?' (Gilman 193). These twomen -- both doctors -- seem completely unable to admit thatthere might be more to her condition than than just stressand a slight nervous condition. Even when a summer in thecountry and weeks of bed-rest don't help, her husbandrefuses to accept that she may have a real problem.Throughout the story there are examples of the dominant- submissive relationship. She is virtually imprisoned inher bedroom, supposedly to allow her to rest and recover herhealth. She is forbidden to work, 'So I . . . am absolutelyforbidden to 'work' until I am well again.' (Gilman 193).She is not even supposed to write: 'There comes John, and Imust put this away -- he hates to have me write a word.'(Gilman 194).She has no say in the location or decor of the room sheis virtually imprisoned in: 'I don't like our room a bit.I wanted . . . But John would not hear of it.' (Gilman193).She can't have visitors: 'It is so discouraging notto have any advice and companionship about my work. . . buthe says he would as soon put fireworks in my pillow-case asto let me have those stimulating people about now.' (Gilman196).Probably in large part because of her oppression, shecontinues to decline. 'I don't feel as if it was worthwhileto turn my hand over for anything. . .' (Gilman 197). Itseems that her husband is oblivious to her decliningconditon, since he never admits she has a real problem until* * * * * Roberts 3the end of the story -- at which time he fainted.John could have obtained council from someone lesspersonally involved in her case, but the only help he seekswas for the house and baby. He...

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