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The Yellow Wallpaper

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The yellow Wallpaper

        When denied freedom of expression and independence, it can drive anyone to be mad. In the past, it was the norm for husbands to dominate over their wives. Women were forced to behave and act how a stereotypically women would act. In the novel “The yellow wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, the husband controls his wife, whom suffers from a nervous condition and isolate her from the outside world. Like a prisoner she faces the effects of solitary confinement. She loses the ability to be active, alert, communicate and human interaction. Solitary confinement causes depression, paranoia, obsessions and difficulty with thinking. Throughout the novel the narrator’s mental disorder is heightened because of isolation, no creative outlet and her relationship with her husband.

The Yellow wallpaper is a short story about a woman who battles a nervous condition. Throughout the novel she faces many conflicts that contributes to her mental, spiritual, physical, and intellectual health. She was diagnosed by her husband and physician John, with the resting cure. John has forbidden her from basic task like writing, reading, drawing, or taking care of her children. He keeps her in an old nursery with bars on the windows and a bed nailed to the floor. “If a physician of high standing, and one’s husband assures friends and relatives that there is really nothing the matter with one…. what is one to do?” (pg1035, line 14). The narrator feels trapped and recognizes that John has all the power when it comes to how she lives her life. A major cause of her mental disorder was her relationship with her husband.

        The narrator saw her husband as a sweet loving man who always had her best interest in mind. She listens to him as a daughter would a father, not a wife to a husband. (1036) John doesn’t give her much say in her process of getting better. Although she has said he is “careful and loving”, the way he treats her is childlike. She doesn’t always agree with what he says but bites her tongue to please him. “am absolutely forbidden to work until I am well again. Personally, I believe that congenial work, with excitement and change would do me good.” (pg. 1035 17-19) It’s hard for her to grow her mind when her husband sees anything creative or productive to be wrong. He stunts her ability to overcome her illness and it becomes a huge barrier to her growth. “John warns me to not give way to fancy in the least…” He says that with imagination power and habit of story making, a nervous weakness like mine is sure to lead to all manner of excited fancies.” “I ought to use my will and good sense to check the tendency” (1037). It was hard for her to challenge her husband who didn’t value her as a wife. He said things like “little girl”, “his darling”, “bless her little heart” The narrator’s relationship with John is very harmful to her and throughout the novel her perspective on him changed drastically.

         By writing the narrator could let out frustrations, opinions and concerns, which released a lot of her depression and anxiety. The only things she could control that John couldn’t was her mind and way of thinking. She formed opinions of different treatment that would be best for her condition. The narrator creates a world that only she is a part of, where she is her own chief. However, she can’t escape her battle of trying to make John happy and staying true to herself. She continues to let her husband influence her, “I sometimes fancy that in my condition if I had less opposition and more society and stimulus, but John says the very worst thing I can do is to think about my condition, and I confess it always makes me feel bad.” John changes her thoughts to what he believes in right and suppresses her.

John never knew how his wife was truly feelings because he never asked. The narrator would hide her feelings from John, “I cry at nothing, cry most of the time. Of course, I don’t when John’s here, or anybody else but when I’m alone. (1039) “It is so hard to talk with John about my case, because he is so wise, and because he loves me so." She knows John is so blinded by his own set of ideas and opinions that he believes everything he is doing is because he loves her.

        The wallpaper was the narrator’s way of diagnosing herself and giving her a creative outlet. Despite what her husband said the narrator continued to write down her thoughts and ideas. The Yellow wall paper caught her attention and turned into an obsession. It was exciting and fun to stare a different patterns and shapes to figure out the design of the wallpaper. Each day she would find something new and obsessed about how hideous the wall paper looked. Finally, she had something that was her own and it helped her escape her reality. “I’m getting very fond of the room in spite of the wallpaper, perhaps because of the wallpaper. It dwells on my mind so much. (1039) It helped to occupy her time and eventually she reflected her feeling onto the wallpaper. No longer did she only have thoughts of pleasing her husband, but her own opinions, thoughts and ideas. “Life is very much exciting now than it used to be. You see, I have something more to expect to look forward to, to watch. I really do eat better and am more quiet than I was” (1042) She now knew that she was truly better and could feel the difference in herself.



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