The Yellow Wall-Paper

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Falling from the Shoulders of Giants: The Yellow Wall-Paper as a Classic Example of the Dangers of Human Arrogance

Progressive dementia is the process by which an individual gradually losses their intellectual capacity and personality integration. In "The Yellow Wall-Paper," Gilman captures the essence of the journey to madness via her use of first person narration. The relationship between Jane, the narrator of the story, and her husband John provokes an uneasy curiosity in the reader. While the evidence that John sincerely cares for his wife and is attempting everything in his power to facilitate her recovery is apparent, a careful analysis of the story alludes to the possibility that he may be, perhaps inadvertently, at the root of her insanity. Since "The Yellow Wall-Paper" is written in first-person, the reader's view of each of the characters is limited by the narrator's descriptions. Armed with that bit of a priori knowledge, we can get a feel for the relationship between John and Jane as represented by Jane's view of her husband and Jane's views of herself in her husband's eyes. Jane views herself as a "comparative burden (3)" to her husband. She obviously wants to be a good wife, but her current condition seems to reinforce a latent inferiority complex. Jane says that John "laughs at her so about this wall-paper!" This statement provides evidence that Jane also suffers from delusions of persecution. It is unlikely that John is actually laughing extensively at his wife over something as mundane as wall-paper. Jane seems to have a great deal of respect for her husband. She thinks that "John never was nervous in his life" (3). This is additional evidence of Jane's inferiority complex relative to her husband because a rational individual would realize that everyone is nervous at some point in their life. From one perspective, John appears to be sincerely concerned about his wife and her well-being. John has temporarily moved his wife to the...
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