The Yellow Wallpaper: a Woman's Struggle

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The Yellow Wallpaper: A Woman's Struggle

Pregnancy and childbirth are very emotional times in a woman's life and many women suffer from the "baby blues." The innocent nickname for postpartum depression is deceptive because it down plays the severity of this condition. Although she was not formally diagnosed with postpartum depression, Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860-1935) developed a severe depression after the birth of her only child (Kennedy et. al. 424). Unfortunately, she was treated by Dr. S. Weir Mitchell, who forbade her to write and prescribed only bed rest and quiet for recovery (Kennedy et al. 424). Her condition only worsened and ultimately resulted in divorce (Kennedy and Gioia 424). Gilman's literary indictment of Dr. Mitchell's ineffective treatment came to life in the story "The Yellow Wallpaper." On the surface, this gothic tale seems only to relate one woman's struggle with mental illness, but because Guilman was a prominent feminist and social thinker she incorporated themes of women's rights and the poor relationships between husbands and wives (Kennedy and Gioia 424). Guilman cleverly manipulates the setting to support her themes and set the eerie mood.

Upon first reading "The Yellow Wallpaper," the reader may see the relationship between the narrator and her husband John as caring, but with examination one will find that the narrator is repeatedly belittled and demeaned by her husband. On first arriving at the vacation home John chooses the old attic nursery against his wife's wishes and laughs at her when she complains about the wallpaper (Kennedy et al. 424,425). In Charlotte Bronte's novel }{plain ul Jane Eyre}{plain , Mr. Rodchester uses his attic to keep his insane wife hidden from the rest of the world. John's actions can easily be interpreted with the same malice. The narrator's insistence that John is a caring and loving husband draws special attention to the true meanings behind his word's and actions....
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