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A Critical Analysis of 'The Yellow Wallpaper' by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

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Introduction

A Critical Analysis of 'The Yellow Wallpaper' by Charlotte Perkins Gilman 'The Yellow Wallpaper' written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is a riveting story of a dejected woman locked away as if she were insane. Her passion is to write and by doing so we are able to follow her on a journey in which she is victimized by those closest to her. The significance of the story is tremendous as it delves into the underlying issues of 'a woman's place' and feminism in the 19th century. The story not only gave an insight into the public perception of mental illness but it later caused a famous psychiatrist, Silas Weir Mitchell to alter his treatment of neurasthema. As the story begins, the woman-whose name we never learn-tells of her depression and how it is dismissed by her husband and brother who are both medical practitioners. "You see, he does not believe I am sick! And what can one do?" We are able to see that the narrator has maintained the traditional patriarchal feelings, as many women and men did in 19th century, where women are discouraged from venturing out of their 'given sphere', due to the political makeup of the era. ...read more.

Middle

It is possible that in her mind, she sees a path which leads to the curing of her illness where happiness and good health awaits at the end. The reason the lane is "shaded" is because she is uncertain whether or not this path can be travelled. Upon moving into the mansion, she immediately becomes obsessed with the nursery room wallpaper with "sprawling, flamboyant patterns committing every artistic sin" Initially she was dying to get out of the room however as the story unwinds she becomes completely infatuated by the wallpaper and doesn't 'want to leave...until I have found it out'. Her days and nights are so uneventful that she finds relief in writing a journal which becomes more obsessive as her sickness develops. She even goes as far as to mention the smell of the wallpaper, 'It is not bad - at first - and very gentle, but quite the subtlest, most enduring odour I ever met.' Her sickness is engulfing her personality and as the story moves forward we lose the woman we first met, and are introduced to an entirely different character. ...read more.

Conclusion

She believes that she has at last gained her freedom from the illness when in reality, the exact opposite has occurred. The incessant creeping is the final summation to her insanity. The colour yellow carried many negative connotations at the time this story was written. It was seen as a colour that was full of morbid self-analysis, and was symptomatic of the degeneration rife in society. This illustrates the protagonists warped head state as although yellow is associated with negativity, she craves it. This is portrayed when the protagonist claims that everything outside is 'green instead of yellow'. Her mind is so twisted that she feels everything outside of her 'sphere' is evil. The ending of the story is open to a variety of different interpretations. She feels victorious for escaping from her husbands grasp however in reality she is now trapped within herself. We feel that she may commit suicide due to her frustration, however the situation was reversed, and I was given the impression that she may have tried to murder her husband, in an attempt to free herself. However what ultimately happens we are never able to learn. ...read more.

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