Instructor: Terry Heath
Aug 7th 2013
In "The Yellow Wallpaper," Charlotte Perkins Gilman presents the narrator, being the main character, as an ill woman. However, she is not ill physically. She is ill in her mind. More than any chemical imbalance that may be present; the narrator's environment is what causes her to go mad.
The environment changes the mind of the narrator. Under the orders of her husband, the narrator is moved to a house far from society in the country, where in she is locked into an upstairs room. This environment serves not as an inspiration for mental health but as an element of repression. The locked door and barred windows serve to physically restrain her: “the windows are barred for little children, and there are rings and things in the walls.” The narrator is affected not only by the physical restraints but also by mind.
Having this strong environment affected more than her mind set about things; it also affected her interpersonal relations that she had with her husband and what role she was expected to play in that relationship. This was a major factor to her breakdown upon entering into the bonds of marriage with Charles Walter Stetson, "an extraordinarily handsome and charming local artist" (Lane, Introduction x). From the beginning she struggled with the idea of having to conform to the domestic model for women. Upon repeated proposals from Stetson, Gilman tried to "lay bare her torments and reservations" about getting married (Lane, To Herland 85). She states that "her thoughts, her acts, her whole life would be centered on husband and children. To do the work she needed to do, she must be free" (Lane, To Herland 85). This idea was scariest of all to Gilman who sincerely loved Charles yet also loved her work and her freedom from constraints. “After a long period of uncertainty and vacillation” she married Charles at the age of 24 (Lane, Introduction x). Not even a year later on March 23,