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Yellow Wallpaper

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named after its heroine, but it can fairly be seen as the story of Charlotte's seducer, Montraville; the plot treats of a man's youthful transgressions. Consider the moment when Montraville sees Charlotte for the first time, coming out of her school for young ladies with her duenna, the morally dubious Frenchwoman Mlle. La Rue, "He saw the gate which led to the pleasure grounds open, and two women come out, who walked arm-in-arm across the field." To Montraville, this is a highly pleasing moment aesthetically, which suggests the sexual joys to come to him soon. Charlotte's duenna sets her up for seduction by introducing her to Montraville. As the inmate of a girl's school, Charlotte, by even talking to Montraville, has already stepped over the line by this act and transgressed the rigid rules of this institution. Wild for freedom, rebellious, and totally without experience, she falls easily to him.

After her Fall, Charlotte exists in that area of the patriarchy, an unnamed space, where young men go to exercise their vices before they join the world of adult male respectability and responsibility. This is not the demimonde, which provides an existence and livelihood for the women in it, but rather an invisible place. This covert world, which for lack of a better term I call the pleasure grounds, admittedly putting a twist on Rowson's meaning, allows a man, as part of his Bildungsroman , the development of a young man's character, to remain innocent while committing evil acts. The girl in this plot must be truly innocent, a virgin, to make this the mating of two innocents. Montraville eats of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil only after he has done the damage. Free to leave the pleasure grounds, he will move on. The pregnant Charlotte, who cannot return to the fold of respectable women, stays behind in the shabby garden of the Fallen, the permanent home of those like Charlotte, the good girls gone astray. She eventually dies in childbirth.

Charlotte's misery and tears serve a dual purpose to Montraville; they provide him with a sense of life intensely lived, but they also offer him the excuse he needs to leave her when he has had enough. Montraville does not reckon with his guilt, but of the course the guilt is what makes a man of him, gives him reality, weight, dimension, not to mention a few melodramatic moments of repentance. Montraville has experienced and survived the sorrows of youth, the central romantic experience, that vision which allows men the indulgence of



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