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Analysis of characters in the yellow wallpaper

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Characters 1. Plot the course of the narrator's descent into madness. Are there any significant turning points? From the very beginning of 'The Yellow Wallpaper' the narrator's isolation in her psychotic state is evident. '...people like John and I'. We know the name of the narrator's husband (John), but not her own. She is nearly anonymous; her identity is John's wife. 'And what can one do?' Gilman uses this noun to describe how the narrator disguises her autonomy and conveys the narrator's helplessness and perceived inability to change her uncomfortable situation; the repetition of 'one' creates a haunting echo of anonymity and demonstrates a sense of conventional acquiescence. Gilman uses exclamation marks to reveal the woman's psychotic, agitated, mental state. Along with questioning features of her surroundings, the woman also makes many exclamatory remarks. This questioning and exclaiming indicate the wide swings in her mental state. 'but that would be asking too much of fate!', '...I am sick!' As the novel progresses, however, Gilman uses many linguistic and syntactic features to convey the changes in the narrator's attitude. The use of first person reveals a dramatic change in the narrator's identity and self -awareness at the point when the dominant text of her actions compromises her sanity and dooms her to madness. ...read more.


But in the mad-sane way she has been the situation of women for what it is. She has wanted to strangle the woman behind the paper; tie her with a rope. For that woman, the tragic product of her society, is of course the narrator's self. By rejecting that woman she might free the other, imprisoned woman within herself. But the only available rejection is suicidal, and hence she descends into madness. Madness is her only freedom, as, crawling around the room, she screams at her husband that she has finally 'got out' outside the wallpaper and has become the physical manifestation of her imprisonment. What is the significance of the rope in the final entry? 'I've got a rope up here..I can tie her' The rope may be seen as a symbol for an umbilical cord, suggesting the narrator's regressal and highlighting the theme of infantilization. However, one may also argue that it suggests re-birth and a new beginning for the woman, free from the constraints she previously faced. Discuss the character John. Is he a well-intentioned and loving husband or a suffocating patriarch/villain? We are first introduced to John in the sentence '...people like John and I'. We know the name of the narrator's husband, but not her own. ...read more.


He has no patience with faith, an intense horror of superstition and he scoffs openly at any talk of things not to be felt and seen and put down in figures". One may argue, however, and suggest that, while John is symbolically returning the narrator to a pre-linguistic site, he does not necessarily do so in order to re-enact her initiation into the language of male privilege. By fixing the narrator in the bedroom and objectifying every aspect of her femininity and sexuality it is almost as if John forms a relationship with his feminine self. John can accept that he, in some way, resembles the narrator. Theoretically, John could look to his wife and see that, apart from the difference that traditionally separates female from male, John is somehow like her. John's mastery of architecture is a metaphor for the mastery of his wife--his meaning is reflected in the bedroom, the region of his power where the narrator resides. John, notably, takes every precaution to prevent himself from forming any relationship with the feminine that does not assert his dominance and authority. 7. Discuss the character of John's sister, Jennie. 'She is a perfect and enthusiastic housekeeper' Jennie embodies society's construction of domestic femininity and embraces her domestic role absolutely. Gilman uses Jennie to portray the conventional Victorian woman providing a stark contrast with the narrator. She buys into the traditional male medical model that the writing makes the narrator mad. ...read more.

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