Yellow wallpaper Criticism

This essay has a total of 1641 words and 11 pages.

yellow wallpaper

Ashley Jameson

Mrs. Kelly Armstrong

English 102

March. 3, 2005

"The Yellow Wallpaper"

Charlotte Perkins Gilman, was born and raised in Hartford, Connecticut, in the 1860s, by

her mother. Charlotte Perkins married a artist, and shortly afterwards gave birth to her

daughter. After the birth of her child, Charlotte was diagnosed with an nervous condition.

Charlotte then committed herself under the care of Dr. S. Weir Mitchell, after the constant

urging of her husband. The care from Dr. Mitchell, and her husband consisted of isolation and

total rest. It was not long before Charlotte was driven to insanity due to these reprimands

encourage by both her husband, and the doctor. Shortly after she fled the care of her husband and

Dr. Mitchell, she moved to California, and began a career as a lecturer and writer on feminist


In 1892, Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote the most significant, and image-like story of her

life, known as "The Yellow Wallpaper". Gilman uses an unnamed narrator of the story. The

unnamed narrator is purposely left unnamed; the narrator could be any woman, wife, and

mother. Gilman paints a vivid picture of a woman who is demeaned, deprived and mad.

Gilman does not leave her readers with an over- powerful image of the woman. Gilman

only conveys the image of a woman creeping around her room, who is suffering from anxiety

and madness.

The woman is under the care of her husband, who is an physician. He locks her in an

nursery in hopes that the confinement and rest will help aid her troubling nervous condition. The

woman seems to be losing her grasp and control over her own life, primarily because she is

under the care of her husband.

As the narrator opens the story, the first striking image that the readers are presented with

is the character John. The husband of the narrator, John, is described as "practical and extreme".

(Gilman,782). John refuses to accept his wife's condition; he does not believe that

there is anything truly wrong with her. The narrative states these comments about her husband.

"You see he does not believe I am sick"! "If a physician of high standing, and one's own

husband assures friends and relatives that there is really nothing the matter with one, but

temporary nervous depression, a slight hysterical tendency, what is one to do?"(783).

The narrator submits to the will of her husband. She gives into his ideas regarding what

is good for her and her nervous condition. She does not stand up for herself, she basically allows

him to control her life.

The narrator wants to be free from the confinement of the room, but she is absolutely

forbidden. So she writes in spite of John. The narrator writes: "I sometimes fancy that in my

condition if I had less opposition and more society and stimulus-but John says the very worst

thing I can do is think about my condition and I confess it always makes me feel bad, so I will let

it alone and talk about the house" (783).

John treats his wife as a child. He does not allow her to think or do anything for herself.

He disregards all of her wants and needs, but caters to his own threw her expense.

The narrator is confined to a nursery at the top of the house. The narrator describes the

room as a "big, airy room, the whole floor nearly, with window that look all ways, and air and

sunshine galore. It was a nursery first and then playroom and gymnasium, I should judge, for

the windows are barred for little children, and there are rings and things in the walls" (784).

The narrator is kept caged in a prison- like setting with barred windows and walls. The

woman does not feel a sense of comfort in the home. The disturbing stained and yellow

wallpaper is totally faded and repulsive. The color seems to be horrid, and somewhat uneasy.

The narrator states, "I can see a strange, provoking, formless sort of figure"(786). And it

is like a woman stopping down and creeping about behind the pattern(789). The faint figure

behind seemed to shake the pattern just as if she wanted to get out (787). And she is all the time

trying to climb through, but nobody could climb through that pattern it strangles so.

All the statements the narrator makes about the wallpaper is ver significant to the story. It
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