Top-Rated Free Essay

The Yellow Wallpaper Analysis

Satisfactory Essays
English 1A03
Charlotte Perkins Gilman, "The Yellow Wallpaper" (1892)
- American writer
- writer of fiction and non-fiction
- feminist
- wrote novel called "Herland" (feminist
- this short story is about women's mental conditions
- story read as critical response about how a male dominated world treated these illnesses
-she suffered post partum depression after birth of her first child

Feminist * criticism and literature
We might read Gilman's fiction as an extension of her progressive political and social politics, particularly her involvement in women's rights
How does fiction enable us to reflect critically on gendered hierarchies of social power?
"The Yellow Wallpaper" responds to 19th- century medical practice - Provides alternative context for understanding "hysteria" and "madness" (mental illnesses ascribed to women) - Critique of the "rest cure" promoted in the late 19th century by Dr. Weir Mitchell (see p. 79)

- Hysteria actually originates from word hyster which means "wondering womb"

Analyzing figures: conflations
Character: Husband/doctor
"If a physician of high standing, and one's own husband, assures friends and relatives that there is nothing the matter with one but temporary nervous depression - a slight hysterical tendency- what is one to do ?" (75)
- Answer given at the end of the story: one might go mad.
- husband and doctor coming together
- at this point in the story the narrator is helpless
- we are shown that male authority comes in different forms (doctor and husband)
- women's own voice doesn't carry any weight
1st - person narration shows the absorption of patriarchal authority into the wife/patient's voice: "I get unreasonably angry with John sometimes. I'm sure I never used to be so sensitive. I think it is due to this nervous condition" (76).
- The word "I" is in the story SO much
- even though John is only used as a subject in the passage he still has so much authority over her
- "sensitive" another term meaning hysteria
- she confirms that he is right and she accepts her mental state
- by allowing us to hear her before we hear anything else the story operates differently than the male dominated world she depicts (literary trick)

Setting: Nursery/ Mental Hospital/Prison
"It was nursery first and then a playroom and gymnasium, I should judge; for the windows are barred for little children, and there are rings and things in the walls" (76-77).
- she misreads the room
- it is not for children but it is for mental patients
- "rings and things in the wall" are restrains in the wall
- could also be a prison
- author wants us to recognize that these three places share things in common as well as who is set in these places
" He is very careful and loving, and hardly lets me stir without special direction" (76)
- she was supposed to do nothing but rest
- she wasn't supposed to read, sing, or even think
- what kind of love is it that won't let her do absolutely anything

Analyzing figures: contracts
1. Images: Wallpaper vs. written/printed paper
"(I would not say it to a living soul, of course, but this is dead paper and a great relief to my mind)" (75)
- dead paper gives her a sense of relief
- she is able to record her thoughts without other knowing
- she isn't allowed to do this though
- she says that her husband hates it when she writes
"I think sometimes that if I were only well enough to write a little it would relieve the press of idea and rest me" (76)
- she says that it relieves her to write
- it is a form of therapy for her yet she still isn't allowed to do so
"This paper looks as if it knew what a vicious influence it had... I get positively angry with the impertinence of it... I never saw so much expression in an inanimate thing before" (76)
- the paper is almost like a cohabitant with her
- this type of paper is not dead it is coming to life
- it is antagonizing her
- first thing she notices about the paper is the eyes as if there is someone always watching her

The "woman in the paper"
"... there are so many of those creeping women... I wonder if they all came out of that wallpaper as I did?" (86)
How does the narrator's relationship to the woman in the wallpaper change?
By the story's conclusion, which "paper" constitutes the prison - the wallpaper, or the printed paper of the story?
How might we understand the narrator's seeming "escape" from the paper - has she triumphed over the patriarchal forces that have acted against her? Or only dramatized the effects of these forces?

-

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Good Essays

    An Analysis of “The Yellow Wallpaper” “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, expresses that wasting away in solitude can eventually lead to insanity and desolation. To begin with, the narrator is a woman suffering from postpartum psychosis. Postpartum psychosis is a very rare illness that affects some woman shortly after they deliver their new-born babies. A brief summary of the story concludes that the narrator spends all of her time alone in self-reflection until solitude is all…

    • 1075 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    The Yellow Wall-Paper Literary Analysis Charlotte Perkins Gilman uses her short story “The Yellow Wall-Paper” to show how women undergo oppression by gender roles. Gilman does so by taking the reader through the terrors of one woman’s changes in mental state. The narrator in this story becomes so oppressed by her husband that she actually goes insane. The act of oppression is very obvious within the story “The Yellow Wall-Paper” and shows how it changes one’s life forever. The…

    • 1405 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    children and clean the house. Women were supposed to live their lives in the “domestic sphere.” This way of living is the way that John, the narrator's husband, expected her to live. The narrator of “The Yellow Wallpaper” was not happy or willing to live this way and became ill. The yellow wallpaper used in the narrator's room symbolizes female imprisonment. The narrator uses a horror-themed tale in order to show the position women had in their marriages. Their marriages were very one-sided, the man…

    • 942 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is a short story inspired by the authors real life experiences. Having suffered from a bout of depression, Gilman was prescribed rest and told to refrain from writing, which only made things worse by increasing her preexisting depression. “The Yellow Wallpaper” tells a similar tale about a depressed wife who is prescribed bed rest by her husband, who also happens to be a physician. They rent a house for the summer, where the narrator spends her time…

    • 497 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Better Essays

    The Yellow Wallpaper Analysis As I started reading this short story, it clearly introduced who the characters are and where it took place. The narrator is a woman; she has no name, remains anonymous throughout the story. She lives with her husband John in a house. This house is isolated from society, since the short story indicates that it is far from village, roads or any means of communication. It also contains locks and gates throughout. The woman is ill and this illness has placed her in…

    • 1172 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Good Essays

    What Does The Wallpaper Symbolise In 'The Yellow Wallpaper'? 'The Yellow Wallpaper' is a short story written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, who in her lifetime produced many short stories, novels, essays and poetry. She was born in 1860 in Connecticut, USA and was brought up by a single mother. After giving birth to her daughter Katherine in 1884 she fell into a deep, post-natal depression and was told to go on the 'rest cure'. This is a period spent in inactivity with the intention of improving…

    • 663 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Charlotte Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper,” is a very interesting story of a woman defeating domination by the man figures in her life. Gilman reveals to the readers how a woman going through postpartum depression feels loneliness and isolation from the outside world, and suppresses her own interests. Gilman discloses how men used to treat women, and how women’s needs and interests were suppressed at that time. The central idea of this story is that women, who are going through any kind of health…

    • 742 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    In Charlotte Perkins Gilmans’ The Yellow Wallpaper, the main theme is the oppression and repression of woman. We follow the narrator as her confinement within herself and her room slowly drive her insane. The main character is trapped by the wallpaper’s vine pattern, which she sees as a cage other women are stuck behind, just as her physician husband has trapped her in the room. There is also a gender division throughout the story. This gender division had the effect of keeping the narrator in a…

    • 1399 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Good Essays

    before making rash judgments. The same must be done for the characters of the stories. In order for readers to truly understand what these individuals are feeling and thinking, it is important to put one's self in their situation. The story "The Yellow Wallpaper" is a tale of a sick woman and her husband, John, which have just moved into a new house. As the plot progresses, it is easy to judge the way the two interact and treat each other. It is important to study John's behavior to actually understand…

    • 863 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    CHARLOTEE PERKINS GILLMAN THE YELLOW WALLPAPER (1892) The cult of true womanhood defined women as “ladies”(pure, diligent). When we talk about American woman, we have to specify their religion, sexual orientation, race, social class (it is therefore essentialist to talk about “women” in general. Depending on the group which they are in, certain coordinates are applicable. The Yellow Wallpaper is about a white, protestant, heterosexual woman at the end of the 19th century in the higher middle…

    • 2376 Words
    • 10 Pages
    Good Essays