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Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s "The Yellow Wallpaper"

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Introduction

Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper", is the story of a woman who suffers from post-partum depression during the late 1800s. The story takes place in the country in a colonial mansion, where John who is a physician and her husband has taken her to cure what he calls her "temporary nervous depression". John forbids her to write because he says it worsens her condition. Throughout the story, the patient sees the mansion more as a haunted house and a prison rather than a place to help her heal. Gilman wants to convey to us the message that women of the time are controlled by men and are not given the right to have an opinion. In "The Yellow Wallpaper", although the patient does not agree with her husband's methods to cure her: "Personally, I disagree with their ideas. Personally, I believe that congenial work, with excitement and change, would do me good." ...read more.

Middle

I will take a nap I guess." She does not sleep much at night because she thinks she sees things in the paper: "There are things in that paper that nobody knows but me, or ever will. Behind that outside pattern, the dim shapes get clearer every day. It is always the same shape, only very numerous." After a few nights, the patterns seem to take shape for her: "I didn't realize for a long time what the thing was that showed up behind, that dim sub-pattern, but now I am quite sure it is a woman." The patient is confident that the front pattern moves because the woman behind shakes it. The patient then claims to see the woman from behind the wallpaper getting out during daytime and creeping about outside her window: "I think that woman gets out in the daytime! And I'll tell you why-privately-I've seen her! I can see her out of every one of my windows! It is the same woman. ...read more.

Conclusion

When John manages to open the door, he finds that his wife has pulled off most of the wallpaper. John faints because he realizes that his wife has gone completely mad thinking that by ripping off the wallpaper she is now free. The patient compares herself to the woman in the wallpaper as both being prisoners, one being trapped behind the wallpaper and herself being trapped in the mansion, so symbolically by ripping the paper, they are both free: " 'I've got out at last', said I, 'in spite of you and Jane. And I've pulled off most of the paper, so you can't put me back!'" When Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote "The Yellow Wallpaper", she wrote it mostly to show us the conditions, hardships and submissiveness to men that women in the late 19th century had to go through. However, not enough emphasis was put on the lack of treatment that mental patients or people seen as to have mental problems had to go through, where they were mostly used as guinea pigs in new treatments such as shock therapy. ...read more.

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