A Study of Insanity
The "Yellow Wallpaper," is a personal account of the author's, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, struggle with depression. It vividly documents one woman's experience with depression and the toil she endured through the treatment of the "Rest Cure." The story helps readers to get a mental picture of how society and solitary confinement can both drive a person into sheer madness.
In the story, the narrator has just given birth to a child and is experiencing, what we call today, Post Partum Depression. With this in mind, her husband has decided to put her to rest for the summer. He confines her to a room that resembles more of a jail cell than a bedroom, and refuses to allow her to work for, "
with my imaginative power and habit of story making, a nervous weakness like mine is sure to lead to all manner of excited fancies
" (Gilman, Par 61) Though this is meant to alleviate the condition and help the narrator to return to the role of mother and wife, it quickly becomes worse than the disease itself.
As her imprisonment continues, the narrator becomes more and more unable to exercise dominion over her mind. She finds solace in her surroundings and becomes increasingly obsessed with the yellow wallpaper in her bedroom.
the pattern is torturing. You think you have mastered it, but just as you get well underway in following, it turns back-somersault and there you are. It slaps you in the face knocks you down, and tramples upon you. It is like a bad dream." (Gil, Par. 145)
Though, at first she had immediate dislike for the wallpaper describing it as, "One of those sprawling flamboyant patterns committing every artistic sin." (Gilman, Par. 35) The paper does, indeed, begin to fascinate her and she becomes more engrossed in uncovering its secrets. Eventually it becomes the center of her life and her only concern, and she spends days and nights concentrating her thoughts on the patterns and the figures that lay beneath...
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