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The Yellow Wallpaper - Charlotte Perkins Gilman's Short Story

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In Charlotte Perkins Gilman's short story, The Yellow Wallpaper, the reader experiences the narrator's decent into lunacy first hand. This piece is a semi-autobiographic narrative that the author wrote after suffering through postpartum psychosis. After Gilman's marriage and the following birth of her daughter, she experienced spells of depression and temporary insanity (Thelma R. Hall 1). The author illustrates the narrator as a woman who is "fighting for some sense of independent self" despite her mental illness (Elaine R. Hedges 228). The Yellow Wallpaper is an excellent portrayal of the consequences directly resulting from self-confinement due to the author's expressive characterization, the depiction of a chauvinistic marriage, and of course, the symbolic yellow wallpaper.

Gilman's use of descriptive characterization displays a solid background portraying the narrator's mutation from stability into insanity. The unnamed female character writes in a journal of the happenings through out her days, and those entries directly tell the story. The woman suffers from "temporary nervous depression," as well as a "slight hysterical tendency" (Charlotte Perkins Gilman 75). She clearly displays that she allows herself to be inferior to men. The narrator mentions that "John says the very best thing [she] can do is to not think about [her] condition" (Gilman 75), and although the woman disagrees with her husband, she writes that she "will let it alone and talk about the house" (Gilman 75). In regards to her everyday life, John does not allow any sort of opinion to come from his wife. She expresses in her journal that she has "a schedule prescription for each hour of the day" (Gilman 76). With all of the components in the narrator's life taken care of, her mind is the only place that she has a sense of independence and control.

The narrator's husband, John, is a controlling physician who thoroughly believes he has all of the right knowledge regarding how to handle his ill wife. She describes him as "practical in the extreme" (Gilman 74), and a person who has "no patience with faith, an intense horror of superstition, and [someone who] scoffs openly at any talk of things not to be felt and seen and put down in figures" (Gilman 74). The narrator's husband does not believe his wife is sick, but "assures friends and relatives that there is really nothing the matter with [her] . . . but . . . depression" (Gilman 75). John, his brother-in-law, and his wife's doctor all agree that she needs complete rest and a hiatus from work if she is to recover. However, their definition of recover means for her to give the impression that she is a typical female in a world developed by and for men (Loralee MacPike 137). John's dominating personality oppresses his wife whether he actually realizes it or not. In



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