Mental Illness in Literature: Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper" Updated on August 8, more Mental Illness in American Literature Gilman's most famous work, her short story "The Yellow Wallpaper", published inis about a woman suffering from mental illness after of being confined to a bedroom in the attic of a vacation home by her husband, John, for the sake of her health. She becomes obsessed with the room's repulsive, yet alluring yellow wallpaper. Gilman wrote this story to bring light to women's role in society, explaining that women's lack of autonomy negatively affects their mental, emotional, and physical well-being.
Contact Author Misuse, abuse, strangulation, stagnation, failure to thrive, repression, regression, repulsion, expulsion. Each of these vertebrae are so deftly maneuvered that there is little evidence of the major driving factor until the story is fleshed out against the backdrop of late 19th century America.
With the historical turbulence of the time this story was very important as a catalytic argument. It is a direct attack on the authority of men and the conventional wisdom of this time period. This effective attack is laid out in a disturbingly vivid and gutturally wrenching first hand account of a psychotic breakdown of the individual.
The treatment of women by society is directly opposed to the well being of the women, more like prisoners than citizens, and in that effect also detrimental to the advancement of society as a whole.
The Yellow WallPaper Understanding the Societal Situation To see the deep-seated argument that this story presents we must first understand the concepts that are directly attacked within.
The basic plot follows a woman who has been prescribed a treatment of social rest, the cure for nervous depression. This social rest includes hourly medications, forced feedings, and above all else extremely limited interactions with other people.
Also she is allowed only limited movement, being confined to the top floor of a large estate for the majority of the story. She is made to feel like she has limited knowledge and should be grateful for her husband, who is the doctor who prescribed this regiment, taking the time and effort necessary to make her better.
We see the narrator pitted against several factions representing cultural norms; Husband vs. Wife in John vs. Patient in John vs. Narrator, Socially acceptable woman vs.
New Woman in Mary vs. Narrator, Passive New Woman vs. Active New Woman in Jennie vs. The New Woman is inherent throughout each of these conflicts and is, at root, the topic being attacked.
These conflicts are embedded so deftly into the text that we must take care to pry them out by use of the delicate language we have been provided. Charlotte Perkins Gilman Challenging the Status Quo The culture itself is challenged, and challenged with such absurdity that it becomes only evident in the subtext and double meaning conveyed in the language, and the argument becomes Social Stagnation vs.
The ideology of the characters pitted against the protagonist is that of the standard culture of the time. Men are the superior and women the inferior, men the masters and women the servants, men the knowledgeable and women the emotional, men the rational and women the irrational.
From the very first lines we are established in a rather unique place that beckons back to an earlier time in which the place of men and women in the social world was much more solid. This type of family conflict is the basis for the disruption in the lives of John and our protagonist as well.
With the introduction of this trouble we can begin to follow the underlying symbolism conveyed in the text. Our protagonist is going to embark on a journey in which the institution is directly changing the family structure. Since she is being secluded from society, her ostracism treatment is then the institutional vehicle for change.
The change will involve the family power structure. The Opening Volley At the beginning of the story we are told that the narrator is a writer and she has been forbidden to work as part of her treatment.
She does her societal duty and conforms to her expected role by not outwardly questioning the authorities of her brother and husband, both doctors. The protagonist is directly opposed to her treatments and admits this to us through the text.
In the beginning we are seeing the protagonist as the traditional woman, having thoughts of change but not acting on them. Even when she begins to protest her placement in a nursery room at the top floor of the estate she does so in such a manner as to be considered socially correct.
Her husband uses a medical institutional argument to assert his choice of her room and she again conforms. At this point we are introduced to the room that she will inhabit for the rest of the story: It is a big, airy room, the whole floor nearly, with windows that look all ways, and air and sunshine galore.
It was nursery first and then playroom and gymnasium, I should judge; for the windows are barred for little children, and there are rings and things in the walls. It is stripped off--the paper in great patches all around the head of my bed, about as far as I can reach, and in a great place on the other side of the room low down.
I never saw a worse paper in my life. The room reads like that of an asylum, but when she presents it, the single most intrusive character is the wallpaper. This treatment of the benign element as the most disturbing foreshadows the great effect this vehicle will have on her.
The yellow wallpaper in the nursery becomes a complex metaphor for society, and in so doing becomes the vehicle for assertion of the New Woman.The Yellow Wallpaper [The Yellow Wallpaper, A Novella] [as Charlotte Perkins Stetson] The Charlotte Perkins Gilman Reader: “The Yellow Wallpaper,” and Other Fiction [Reader] [edited by.
Aug 02, · The Yellow Wallpaper addresses the cause of mental illness, thus aiding Gillman in becoming “ a vital force in the history of reform in the United States” (Gilman ).Reviews: The Yellow Wallpaper In Charlotte Perkins Gilman's, "The Yellow Wallpaper," the main character, Jane encounters a mental illness that would take control of her entire life.
The progression of Jane's mental illness is demonstrated through the environment and how her surroundings depict her mental . Oct 29, · The way mental illness is portrayed in The Yellow Wallpaper is quite interesting, in my opinion, particularly as the book is written in first person.
This means that the reader experiences life through the eyes of someone dealing with mental illness, giving quite a real sense of how it might be. The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Mental Illness and its Treatment appears in each section of The Yellow Wallpaper.
Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
- Freedom for Women in The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gillman and The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin 'The Yellow Wallpaper' by Charlotte Perkins Gillman and 'The Story of an Hour' by Kate Chopin are two feminist works in which liberation is the overlying theme.