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Removing Wallpaper Reveals Wall in “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

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The story “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is about a female narrator who is suffering from some form of post partum depression that spirals out of control as her husband tries to help by secluding her, in the middle of nowhere for three months. Since the woman is already admittedly unsound, the seclusion makes her fixate severely on yellow wallpaper in her bedroom. Eventually as her story progresses, her fixation becomes an obsession and the wallpaper begins to do things completely improbable. Eventually it becomes impossible to distinguish the facts from the fiction buried amidst her madness. By the end of her story, you realize that nothing this narrator is writing is reliable; because all the people around her notice her mental illness, her stories is as unstable as she is, and eventually she completely looses all grasp on reality.

The people surrounding the narrator all seem to agree she is suffering from some form of insanity that manifests itself in delusions, while she never references one character who thinks she is sound. She admits early on her husband John is “John is practical in the extreme[.]”(Schwiebert 224). This makes him an extremely credible witness to what is going on. John and the narrator’s brother are Physicians which both have diagnosed her with a form of mental instability, which they believe is temporary. Unfortunately, John like most physicians of his time believes the best medicine is seclusion, which becomes are narrators worst enemy. Just because he mistreats her illness doesn’t mean John misdiagnoses her. In a world where treatments for mental illness ranges from exorcism to electroshock therapy our narrator is lucky it wasn’t a few years later where John might have had her lov...


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...he says can be taken at face value.

In the beginning, our Narrator doesn’t seem so far off her rocker until you remove the layers to her story and her sickness becomes overwhelmingly apparent. It is highly unlikely that the narrators friends and family our wrong at first, and that she omitted important details from her account instead of imagined them later, and people don’t get trapped or become one with wallpaper thus making the Narrator unreliable. The Narrator has to loose herself in order for us to realize she wasn’t completely herself. Maybe our Narrator is reliable but what she has become, in spite of Jane, now is not. Her story unfolds as colorful as the wallpaper and contains the same disturbing hue. No one should ever remove wallpaper before 1978 because it usually exposes lead based paint, our narrators attempt only exposes something much sicker.




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