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The Yellow Wallpaper

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Tyer 1

Drew Tyer

Jennifer McCune

ENGL 1312

24 February 2005

No Work and No Play Makes Jane a Dull Girl

Jane in Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper" was "touched" as some say long before she was prescribed, and administered the "rest cure" by her husband for her then unknown ailment now called postpartum depression. The boredom and isolation of this cure only allowed her mind to venture farther down a dark and winding corridor of insanity.

Jane has recently had a child and is experiencing what we know today as postpartum depression. Back in the 1800's doctors had no understanding of these symptoms, so they chalked it all up to a temporary nervous depression. This was cured by a treatment called the "rest cure" popularized by Dr. S. Weir Mitchell. This remedy consisted mainly of isolation and bed rest. We now know that this does nothing to promote a healthy mind or body. But, at the time this was the best-known cure.

As a child Jane had hallucinations, "I used to lie awake as a child and get more entertainment and terror out of blank walls and plain furniture than most children could find in a toy-store."(Gilman 593). This sort of behavior is more than just your average child's rampant imagination. This is truly the sound of someone who is delusional and needs some form of psychological counseling.

This overly active quasi delusional behavior followed Jane to adulthood, and was noticed but dismissed as pure silliness by her husband even before the baby came about, "... he says that

Tyer 2 with my imaginative power and habit of story-making, a nervous weakness like mine is sure to

lead to all manner of excited fancies..."(Gilman 592) Anytime Jane acted a little bit weird he would just say it was her hyperactive imagination at work again. Little did he know the depths of her problems that were to become evident over the next three months.

The demons in her mind first began to attack her psyche about two weeks into her stay at the house. She regressed into her child like mind state once again when confined to her room. Jane begins to obsess upon the wall paper which she finds hideously fascinating. She stared at it endlessly finding different violent shapes and images, "There is a recurrent spot where the pattern lolls like a broken neck and two bulbous eyes stare you upside down." (Gilman 593) This is the same sort of behavior she exhibited as a child in her room. The images in the wallpaper just keep getting more intensely twisted as time progresses. She started noticing indistinct figures shifting around the patterns of the wall paper, "... I can see a strange, provoking, formless sort of figure that seems to skulk about behind that silly and conspicuous front design..."(Gilman 593). Jane soon becomes obsessed upon this image and it this form begins to take shape and takes form as a woman crouching behind the pattern of the wallpaper. Her neurotically psychotic belief that there is a woman the wallpaper she keeps hidden to herself "...of course I never mention it to them anymore- I am too wise...(Gilman 595). She is beginning to crack on the outside as well when she speaks to her husband she isn't even able to finish conversations without bursting into tears. He believes that this is yet another symptom of her ailment, and needs further bed rest.

The hallucinations become more bizarre, and a paranoid protectiveness over the woman in the wallpaper as she spends the final three weeks in the room. Thus her treatment pushes her Tyer 3 already fragile and battered mind into the final descent of insanity.



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