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The Fight for Sanity in The Yellow Wallpaper

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The Fight for Sanity in The Yellow Wallpaper

 
      Charlotte Perkins Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper is partly autobiographical and it illustrates the fight for selfhood by a women in an oppressed and oppressive environment.  In the story, the narrator is not allowed to write or think, basically becoming more dysfunctional as she is entrapped in a former nursery room where bars adorn the windows and the bed is nailed to the floor.  In this story there is an obstinacy on behalf of the narrator as she tries to go around her husband's and physician's restrictions, however, there is no resisting the oppressive nature of her environment and she finally surrenders to madness even though it represents some kind of selfhood and resistance because it allows her to escape her oppression, "She obsesses about the yellow wallpaper, in which she sees frightful patterns and an imprisoned female figure trying to emerge.  The narrator finally escapes from her controlling husband and the intolerable confines of her existence by a final descent into insanity as she peels the wallpaper off and bars her husband from the room" (Gilman, 1999, 1).

 

Gilman herself suffered from post-partum hysteria and was treated by a famous doctor of the era, one who prescribed his famous "rest cure", the same cure the female narrator cannot tolerate and defies in The Yellow Wallpaper.  In this story the narrator remains nameless and there is good reason for it.  She feels as if she has no identity or control over obtaining fulfillment and unity and satisfaction in life.  Her husband is a doctor who also prescribes complete rest for her and is opposed to her doing the one thing that seems to give her a unique voice, writing.  Thus, the narrator defies her...


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...ation of the personality)" (Brown, 1999, 1).  Gilman shows how this descent is inevitable in such an oppressive environment, unless, of course, one is as strong as Gilman herself in overcoming such an environment. 

 

Works Cited

The Yellow Wallpaper. http://members.aol.com/luvthebard/111/yellowwallpaper.html, Aug. 2, 1999, 1-2.

Brown, B. D.  A Psychological Approach to Charlotte Perkins Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper. http://www.usinternet.com/users/bdbourn/yellow.htm, Aug. 2, 1999, 1-2.

Dewey, J.  Art and Education: A Collection of Essays.  Pennsylvania, The Barnes Foundation Press, 1954.

Gilman, C. P.  Charlotte Perkins Gilman Reader.  New York, Pantheon Books, 1980.

Gilman, C. P. Charlotte Perkins Gilman:  The Yellow Wallpaper. http://endeavor.med.nyu.edu/lit-med/lit-med-db/webdocs/webdescrips/gilman87-des-.html, Aug. 2, 1999, 1-2.

 


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