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The Yellow Wallpaper - Trauma of Charlotte Gilman - Essay Example

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The Yellow Wallpaper – trauma of Charlotte Gilman The role of woman was essentially determined and assigned by men before the twentieth century. The women folk were caged in an ideological prison that subjugated and silenced them. The practice of domesticity along with the cult of purity was put forward as the ultimate goal of women and the main components of true womanhood…
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The Yellow Wallpaper - Trauma of Charlotte Gilman

Charlotte Gilman casts an almost cynical eye on the social structure as she highlights how some women have themselves set and incorporate these definitions in their livelihood. This is evident as she comments on the attitude of the doctor’s sister, “There comes John's sister. Such a dear girl as she is, and so careful of me! I must not let her find me writing. She is a perfect and enthusiastic housekeeper, and hopes for no better profession. I verily believe she thinks it is the writing, which made me sick!” (Gilman, 4) She is not allowed to cultivate her talent and passion for writing. This put an imaginary iron bar around her life which is practically enclosed in a room with yellow wallpaper. Dr. Mitchell, a neurosurgeon prescribes the ‘Rest cure’ process that brings out the belittling gesture of men towards women. The doctor always asks his wife to rest in order to be cured and makes this a weapon which can prevent her from nurturing her writing talents. This gradually crushes her self-esteem as he gains dictatorship over her life. This cure requires total rest, feeding and isolation. One instance of his sweet talk may be quoted as follows: “He says no one but myself can help me out of it; that I must use my will and self-control and not let any silly fancies run away with me” (Gilman, 6). She talks about the dominating care of her husband as she says, “He is very careful and loving, and hardly lets me stir without special direction… There comes John, and I must put this away, --he hates to have me write a word. We have been here two weeks, and I haven't felt like writing before, since that first day. I am sitting by the window now, up in this atrocious nursery, and there is nothing to hinder my writing as much as I please, save lack of strength” (Gilman 2) She illustrates how, despite having the perfect ambience to write, her husband’s domineering presence makes her weak to pursue the same. She is nervous and cannot gather the strength to take out the paper and pen to write. Gilman highlights the growing nervousness that is brought about through constant loving domination rendered by her husband at home. Owing to the fact that John would not encourage her writing, let alone appreciate them, she gradually suffers from low-self esteem. The following lines bring this out: “But these nervous troubles are dreadfully depressing. John does not know how much I really suffer. He knows there is no REASON to suffer, and that satisfies him. Of course it is only nervousness. It does weigh on me so not to do my duty in any way! I meant to be such a help to John, such a real rest and comfort, and here I am a comparative burden already!” (Gilman, 3) She has to wear a facade and cannot even let out her frustration in front of her husband. This adds to the pain. The work represents the Cult of Womanhood, which ties up the women folk to the ambience of the home and family. Here women have been confined to the defined parameters that have been set by men. Gilman talks about the time when constant domination is negatively affecting her creativity, as she has to put in the extra effort in order to overcome the mental set back and arouse the self-encouragement within her. The following lines make the state of her mental condition clear: “I did write for a while in spite of them; but it DOES exhaust me a good ... Read More
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