Final Class Essay

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Lisa Victor
English 223
Final Class Essay:

The text I chose to develop and expand on was The Yellow Wall-Paper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. This psychologically complex tale is written from a diary-style, narrative viewpoint of a woman suffering from a serious case of depression. She is being involuntarily and coercively imprisoned within the compound of her summer home by her physician husband, who is attempting to treat her with the experimental “resting cure” that was popularly used in the Nineteenth Century for a variety of mental disorders. I have chosen to elaborate on the specific breakdown of the faulty procedures involved in this type of treatment: within this specific text, as well as throughout its practice in the course of history. I also chose to tie in the importance of the inequality of the male/female roles and expectations, especially in relation to this historical time frame.

Written in the 1890s, The Yellow Wall-Paper takes place in a time period where this controversial method was at its peak in popularity in a multitude of medical practices-especially those along the psychological spectrum. The treatment commonly known as the “bed rest cure” or simply “rest cure” was established in the Nineteenth Century by the physician Silas Weir Mitchell-who ironically was known to mainly and specifically prescribe this questionable regimen to women, especially those primarily suffering from and diagnosed with depression (much like the portrayed description of Gilman’s disturbing tale). This faulty method was also prescribed for other mental disorders, such as hysteria, as well as a variation of physical ailments.

Similarly to the narrator in The Yellow Wall-Paper, this unproven cure was generally ineffective and caused the majority of its test subjects to possibly die, have their original symptoms worsen, or gradually begin to go completely insane altogether. The main character may have begun her treatment solely with...
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