The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman: Analysis

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It is difficult when reading The Yellow Wallpaper to separate the author’s position, Charlotte Perkins Gilman and her prior unsuccessful psychiatric medical treatment, from the main character’s position: a woman suffering from a “nervous condition.” The main character, who at most times takes the role of narrator, seems to have a sort of despising attitude toward her husband, a physician by the name of John who has restricted her from her work: writing. She describes his practical attitude toward superstition and faith in a degrading manner, using language such as “horror of superstition” and “scoffs openly at any talk of things not to be seen” (597). Gilman directly intended readers to understand the main character’s inner, honest thoughts on John’s convictions, as well as the author’s personal thoughts on the commonly help attitude of physicians. Further, Gilman wanted us to know how this believe was detrimental and poisonous with the following intriguant, “John is a physician, and perhaps – (I would not say it to a living soul, of course, but this dead paper and a great relief to my mind) –per haps that is one reason I do not get well faster” (597). This is, perhaps, the most revealing evidence for a self-portrayal of the author in the main character and, more importantly, the character’s situation. So much so, in fact, that Gilman is foreshadowing the worsening of the main character’s symptoms using the phrase “…one reason I do not get well faster” clearly and effectively. Sure enough, as readers find out in the climactic ending scene, the main character crosses over into insanity. Here, she speaks of her refusal to go outside, “For outside you have to creep on the ground, and everything is green instead of yellow” (608). Now, compare it with a moment from earlier in the story, “The color [of the wallpaper] is repellant, almost revolting; a smouldering unclean yellow… I should hate it myself if I had to live in this room long” (599). The character’s mental...
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