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Analytical Essay,” The Yellow Wallpaper”
Charlotte Perkins Gillman’s brilliant ”The yellow wallpaper” was first published 1899 and trigged a huge debate in the US at this time. The story is about a woman in crisis, about a woman that is mentally ill and needs help. People say that Charlotte has experienced everything in the story herself and then wrote a short story about all the occurrences and treatments as a mentally unstable person.
The protagonist in the story is telling us about her husband that is a doctor and his conviction about his “right” technique and method to heal her, or the woman in the stories psychological disorder. The protagonist’s Husband, John is a very educated man with lots of experience of this kind of cases. John rented a house for himself and his wife, to give her a chance to recuperate. His method consists long walks in the forest and actually don’t to do anything special accept just the long walks. John is also telling his wife not to write or read anything, and especially not think too much – those kind of things would just aggravate her psychological state of health, in his opinion. This was a very normal method, and technique to help mentally sick people, at this time. This kind of mentally illness that has struck the protagonist, the woman, arose occasionally after giving birth. The story consist an excellent mix between different symbolism, irony, sarcasm, humour and even also utterly seriousness.
The story is written from the protagonist’s point of view, videlicet; from the woman in trouble. The narrator, or the woman tells the reader in detail about the room John is putting her in. The woman does not feels comfortable in the room since she always, as you can se when reading “between the lines” (the most in the end), feels like being treated like a child. The room looks like an old nursery. “ Windows are barred from children” is one typically quote from the text where you can tell that she is presented in something like an old playgroup.
The protagonist is told to not leave the house and to not have social contact with someone ells then just John himself. She is not, according to this method, allowed to see her own child, which is a hard thing to accept and understand.
In some places in the text it feels like Charlotte Perkins Gillman tries to confuse us with telling the reader that she knows that she is sick and that the method John is using is the total right one. In the beginning, it seams like the woman, the protagonist agree with John and the treatment he is using to try to recover her. Increasingly, the woman is starting to give the readers small hint’s about some kind of revolts and rebellious attitude. Just the fact that she is writing the diary is a concrete prove that she is revolting against John’s method. She is also starting to thing a lot more than before and starting to “daydream” and fantasizes about different things. After a while, she is starting to focus and fantasizes about the yellow wallpaper. The reasons why she is starting to do this can be very many. It could be because John is telling her to do “nothing” which actually is a pretty hard thing to do, since you always are doing “something”. She could be bored and tried to make a big deal of something small, like turning ordinary yellow wallpaper to a prison with crawling women in it, etc. One other veracious reason is because of her psychological disorder, that she is starting to fantasize. More and more, while time is passing her by, she is starting to fantasize more until one day, when she suddenly sees a woman, trapped behind the wallpaper. Things is now starting to happen faster, and she slowly starting to see those woman’s (as now are more then just one) clearer and clearer until one day when she release them in a dramatic scene. In the middle of this insanity John is entering the room and sees his wife crawling around in circles like a total maniac on the floor. This is unfortunately too much for John, who actually should be the big, proud, leader like, clever, masculine, man, which results in him fainting (one prove of irony in the story). John’s method and treatment appear not to work that well, and this was presumably on of the moral in the short story, that people at that time were using wrong technique to heal mentally ill people. One thing to keep in mind, is also that we are reading all the happenings from the woman’s point of view. Since the woman has major psychological disorder, as you can se several times in the story, don’t we know how reliable all the fact she is telling us are.
Charlotte Perkins Gillman has used a very clever technique to elicit the moral, without even mention it with words. The story is also very well-written and it makes you think, after reading it. Charlotte gives us small clues of everything that finally leads to the final answer, that is the reason why you need to read it several times to really catch all those small hints.
There are a few characters in the story, but just two main characters; the woman that we still don’t know the name of, and her husband – John. The woman is the mentally ill person that is telling us the story through her diary, which also is the short story that we are reading. The woman and her husband have rented the house far out, almost in the middle of nowhere, so she could recover as fast as possible. Her husband is using a method she seams so accept in the beginning but she is getting more critical and rebellious as closer the end of the story we get. She also seams so get worse and worse as farer we read the story. The story ends up with her going crazy and her husband lying unconscious on the floor. John on the other hand is a big, masculine, confident, “leader stereotype” man with a normal, at that time, attitude toward woman and how mental patients should be treated.
Except those two characters, there are some small characters like for example the couple’s kid, the woman’s relatives, and also even someone called “jenny” that the woman talks about in the very last scene. This woman “Jenny” could likely be the woman herself, according to last quote the woman says.
Charlotte Perkins Gillman has succeeded write a brilliant short story which has been discussed from it’s very first edition until now, by using different techniques like the symbolic meanings of the wallpaper, different part of irony when John is fainting, using humour and sarcasm when talking about the method John is using to try to make her better and so on. Especially the symbolic meaning of the yellow wallpaper. It can be interpreted in many different ways but the most discussed thing about it is the colour. Yellow can be characterize as a colour for small kids and even minority and the wallpaper itself can be characterize as the “prison” John is holding her in, and the woman, as herself, etc. Also different words and nicknames John is calling the woman for makes him sound very superior and her like a small kid, since he is treating her like one. It is the composition of a great story, lots of symbolic symbols, irony etc that is making the story as brilliant as it actually is. Also one of the last sentences that she says “I had to crawl over him every time…” is one of many symbolic meanings in this pleasant art of language.