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Examine The Way Which Charlotte Perkins Gilman Is Concerned With The Ill-Treatment And Isolation Of Women In The Yellow Wallpaper.

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Introduction

Grace Steward Examine The Way Which Charlotte Perkins Gilman Is Concerned With The Ill-Treatment And Isolation Of Women In The Yellow Wallpaper. The writer Charlotte Perkins Gilman suffered from postnatal depression in the late 1800's in America. She was given a "rest cure" which was not to do or have any creativity. This led to a more severe depression. In the story of The Yellow Wallpaper, the central character shares the same situation and predicament as the writer. Therefore we read the story as though it were autobiographical: a writer suffering from depression, given little real help by a patriarchal society. The story is written in first person in a diary form, and in present tense, which gives us, the reader, a sense of being there and sharing the experience. "It is quite alone.... the place has been empty for years". The house where the narrator stays is somewhat dim and isolated. ...read more.

Middle

She has no say. Her relationship with her husband is not an even one. They have contrasting characteristics "John laughs at me, of course but one expects that". John mocks her views and she accepts it. John uses a patronising tone with her as though he talks down to her, "blessed little goose". While she is in this state John forbids her to have any contact with family. There was no such thing as a mental illness in those days; doctors were only receptive to physical illnesses. All doctors were male and in her case only saw her illness as a "slight hysterical tendency". The cure prescribed was that she was "forbidden to work", until she was well again. This drove her to writing in secret, "it is getting to be a great effort for me to think straight". This is ironic as she is supposed to rest, and the wallpaper in her room is exhausting her. ...read more.

Conclusion

She talks very secretly to us, the reader. She starts to think that the woman is real and active in the daytime. As time runs out on her three months stay she starts to tear away at the paper: this is either her final mental breakdown and insanity, or her last effort to free herself and recover. Charlotte Perkins Gilman has portrayed the unfair treatment of women during the late 1800's using the yellow wallpaper, and this treatment may also have played a part in her mental illness, as her husband was a typical man of this era and society. Perkins Gilman created this character after having a real life experience of ill treatment and isolation herself. The writer wrote the yellow wallpaper after having first hand experience, making this effective in terms of portraying patriarchal attitudes towards women at that particular time. Her husband john is representative of narrow-minded male rule at that time, he "forbids" her, he patronises her and commands her in all things. Her creative identity is destroyed and, as a result her entire sense of self-identity is destroyed. ...read more.

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