The Yellow Wallpaper

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“The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, expresses that wasting away in solitude can eventually lead to insanity and desolation. To begin with, the narrator is a woman suffering from postpartum psychosis. Postpartum psychosis is a very rare illness that affects some woman shortly after they deliver their new-born babies. A brief summary of the story concludes that the narrator spends all of her time alone in self-reflection until solitude is all she craves.

The focal point of the story is that the narrator begins to see and believe that there is a woman behind the yellow wallpaper, but in reality, the fictitious woman is only in her mind. With that being said, the truth behind the story is that seclusion leads to insanity. Another truth behind the story is that while being under pressure, a person will choose to yield, prevail, or change to escape the pressure. The narrator found that writing in her journal was an outlet to express her feelings. According to Gilman, the narrator says, “I don’t know why I should write this.

I don’t want to. I don’t feel able. And I know John would think it absurd. But I must say what I feel and think in some way–it is such a relief! ”(91). The narrator is very expressive in her journal. She isn’t afraid to write her innermost thoughts down; she is simply frightened to see her husband catch her in the act. The cultural setting takes place at the narrator’s colonial mansion. Some of the surroundings are as follows: the fruitful garden, the grape-covered arbors, the greenhouses, and many other sights of nature.

According to Gilman, The narrator notes, “out of one window I can see the garden, those mysterious deep shaded arbors, the riotous old-fashioned flowers, and bushes and gnarly trees. Out of another I get a lovely view of the bay and a little private wharf belonging to estate. There is a beautiful shaded lane that runs down there from the house. I always fancy I see people walking in these numerous paths and arbors, but John has cautioned me to not give fancy in the least”(88).

In the beginning and mid-part of her stay in the mansion, it’s quite obvious that the narrator enjoys seeing her outdoor surroundings. But as the time goes by, the narrator quickly changes her mind and explains that she doesn’t want to go outside or even look out her window anymore. The physical setting pertains to the narrator’s mind. The narrator is often left feeling restricted from doing anything besides resting, eating, and staying inside the mansion. The narrator’s husband, John, believes that his so-called “rest cure” theory will heal his wife of any issues she is having.

His “rest cure” was obviously ineffective because the narrator rarely slept through the night, for she was fixated on nothing but the yellow wallpaper. Her husband, on the other hand, assumed his wife was fast asleep. For instance, the narrator writes, “I lie down ever so much now. John says it is good for me, and to sleep all I can. Indeed he started the habit by making me lie down for an hour after every meal (Gilman 94). But when the night fell, the narrator’s mind would overflow with thoughts about the wallpaper.

She memorized every pattern, every scent, and every surface of the wallpaper. And most importantly, she focused on the so-called woman that crept around the room. For example, the narrator says, “I’m feeling ever so much better! I don’t sleep at night, for it is so interesting to watch developments; but I sleep a good deal in the daytime” (Gilman 95). It is important to note that spending too much time alone and away from the real world can lead to a serious state of mental illness.

The narrator needed to visit her friends and family and she needed to be involved in activities outside her home in order to live a healthy lifestyle. But instead she was denied her requests to leave, and she was trapped inside the mansion for three months. As a consequence, the yellow wallpaper delusion slowly took over her mind. In a sense, the woman believed to live behind the wallpaper, was the narrator herself. According to Gilman, the narrator writes in her journal, “I think that woman gets out in the daytime! And I’ll tell you why—privately—I’ve seen her!

I can see her out of every one of my windows! It is the same woman, I know, for she is always creeping, and most women do not creep by daylight. I see her in that long shaded lane, creeping up and down. I always lock the door when I creep by daylight. I can’t do it at night, for I know John would suspect something at once” (96-97). It is interesting to notice that the narrator is speaking so enthusiastically of the woman behind the wallpaper, but then she suddenly switches to speaking about herself, as if they were really the same person!

In conclusion, it is clear that the narrator had reached a heightened state of insanity. The woman who crept inside and out of the yellow wallpaper was simply an imaginary figure. In the beginning of the story, the narrator wrote in her diary a countless number of times about how the yellow wallpaper sickened her. Towards the end of the story, it was clear that yellow wallpaper completely took over her mind. The narrator went from being disgusted with the wallpaper, to a state of being completely fixated on the paper. And therefore, she was addicted to it.

She was addicted to what she believed went on behind the paper, and addicted to the woman who crept outside of it. At that point, the narrator had no chance of getting any better. Her mind was completely gone, and her husband was left in shock. For example, according to Gilman, the narrator says, “I’ve got out at last. In spite of you and Jane. And I’ve pulled off most of the paper, so you can’t put me back! ” Now why should that man have fainted? But he did, and right across my path by the wall, so that I had to creep over him every time! ” (100).

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