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…
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 ...
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Due to her illness, he does not allow her to engage in any creative or mental activity but only wants her to rest. He especially discourages her from writing. John does not listen to his wife in regards to her thoughts and feelings. He feels that there is nothing wrong with her.
The title is very important in the context of the story. The author’s use of this particular title portrays the great talent and creative skills that she possesses and her amazing ability to visualize things in an abstract manner. The title of the story, The Yellow Wallpaper, is well suited to the ideas expressed by the author.
The story happens mostly in the room with the yellow wallpaper. The yellow wallpaper eventually evolves into a character, wherein the main character, the narrator, sees a woman caged within the wallpaper.
She is a newlywed in a summer vacation with her doctor husband. The doctor decides to put her to bed rest in order to heal from the condition. The room, in the upstairs of the three-week summer vacation apartment has yellow wallpaper. Having nothing else to associates to, the woman closely relates, though in a lunatic way, to the yellow wallpaper.
Language is "phallogocentric", and thus Gilman appropriates images, motifs, metaphors, and symbols to show the design of her desires, frustrations and ultimately her freedom in a way that the patriarchal narrative logic is unable to rationalize. This narrative and all the symbols become a pre-Oedipal chaos of her chained mind.
Being a student, the author himself has experienced depression quite similar to the woman in The Yellow Wallpaper. But he said that he tried to seek distraction from friends, music, and available entertainment from the internet. And these activities take him off the unhealthy state of his mind and psyche.
The author describes that this woman completely loses her mind by the end of the story, which is seen to happen in stages as she begins to recognize the faces and figures of other women trapped within the ugly pattern of the old yellow wallpaper. The imagery of this wallpaper begins to take on a life of its own in the mind of the woman.
This essay intends to explore the subtle feministic discourses that evolved into the literature since early nineteenth century and tried to discuss the pre-occupied thought of men regarding the body and mind of women in the society. John, who misjudged his wife and was driven by the pre-occupied thought regarding the mental disorder of his wife.
Some of the stylistic devices that enhance the flow of the story include symbolism, imagery, and allegory. The author also uses various linguistic techniques to create meaning and improve on the quality of the story.