ENG 106 Winter Quarter
March 22, 2012
The Yellow Wallpaper: a self-destructive and self-expressive point of view. Charlotte Perkins Gilman expresses how she feels about women’s oppression in a short story that she indited in the ninetieth century entitled: The Yellow Wallpaper. In the text, the narrator isolates from herself to appreciate her inner self. To succeed in appreciating her inner self, she utilizes a yellow wallpaper with patterns in her room. She tears up the wallpaper and finds herself. The narrator and the protagonist of the story is isolated from society and benefits from her isolation to better understand her inner self. This split makes it arduous to decipher what the protagonist is going through in the text. Her life, her marriage, and even objects in her house are all associated with oppression. This type of demeanor involves virtually no exertion of her own free will. Rather, she is expected to passively accept the fact that her own conceptions are mere fancy, and only the opinions of the men in her life can be trusted. She is expected to take their own uninformed opinions on her mental state over her own. While "Wallpaper" presents a powerful argument in favor of the feminist movement, the true issue behind the conflict is even more fundamental: the resiliency of human will in the face of social negation. Conspicuously, it is insurmountable to maintain a salubrious mental state in the oppressive environment circumventing the woman. Throughout the story, the author traces the woman's mental deterioration from a having a normal but debilitated sense of self, to a complete inversion of her ego. She gradually inverts her orientation of her place in society, digressing from society thoroughly in order to create a world where she can act on her own volition. In order to represent the stages of her gradually worsening state of mind, the author represents the woman's struggles through a parallel with her view of the wallpaper. The wallpaper is at first a seeming inversion of the woman's mind, but it is gradually revealed to be a parallel, showing her transition from an impuissant-willed but outwardly focused wife to a vigorous-willed but internally focused individual. The wallpaper takes on immediate significance when it is introduced to the story, simply because its characteristics are described with such detail. At this point, the paper seems to represent all that is diametrical to the woman, and she is repulsed by it. "I never saw a worse paper in my life,"(l56) writes the woman. Whereas she is a sweet, dutiful wife to her husband, and her demeanor carefully conforms to what society expects of her, she is disgusted by the paper's poor condition, its faded, soured color, and its pattern, "One of those sprawling flamboyant patterns committing every artistic sin"(156). Her mild-mannered demeanor, evident in the aperture scenes, carefully conforms with what society expects of her; therefore, this vague description of the pattern of the wallpaper seems to be an inversion of the woman's personality. However, more proximate analysis proves that her reasons for hating the paper are illogical, and reveal hypocrisy in the way she views the structure of society. The idea of an artistic "sin", implies that artists are supposed to follow a specific set of rules. This is erroneous. There are many schools of artistic thought, but artists are continually challenging those traditions and developing new ones. An artistic sin, then, would be an original technique, but to call originality in art sinful contravenes the nature of art. Similarly, the woman feels that she is required to capitulate to her husbands wishes: If a medico of high standing, and one's own husband, assures friends and relatives that there is genuinely nothing the matter with one but temporary nervous depression--a slight hysterical tendency--what is one to do? (154). But for society to expect the woman to give in to her husband's...
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