The Yellow Wallpaper Research Essay

"The Yellow Wallpaper" commands attention not only for the harrowing journey into madness it portrays, but also for its realism.It comes as no surprise, then, to discover that the "The Yellow Wallpaper" is autobiographical. She was suffering from depression, "nervous prostration" as diagnosed by the doctor, after the birth of her daughter.As women’s reform movements gained the strength that would eventually win the vote in 1920, the backlash became more vicious and dangerous.

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He speaks of her as he would a child, calling her his “little girl” and saying of her, “Bless her little heart.” He overrides her judgments on the best course of treatment for herself as he would on any issue, making her live in a house she does not like, in a room she detests, and in an isolated environment which makes her unhappy and lonely.

John’s solicitous “care” shows that he believes the prevailing scientific theories which claim that women’s innate inferiority leaves them, childlike, in a state of infantile dependence.

Deprived of any meaningful activity, purpose, and self-definition, the narrator’s mind becomes confused and, predictably, childlike in its fascination with the shadows in the wallpaper.

In the end, the narrator triumphs over John—she literally crawls over him—but escapes from him only into madness.

In indicting John’s patronizing treatment of his wife, Gilman indicts the system as a whole, in which many women were trapped behind damaging social definitions of the female.

One can see the negative effects of John’s (and society’s) treatment of the narrator in her response to the rest cure.Gilman makes John the window through which readers can view the negative images of women in her society.In Gilman’s lifetime, women’s right to become full citizens and to vote became one of the primary issues debated in the home, the media, and the political arena.(The entire section is 429 words.) In 1913, more than twenty years after the first publication of ''The Yellow Wallpaper," Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote that she devised the story, "to save people from being driven crazy." Gilman had suffered a near mental breakdown herself, and had been prescribed a rest treatment very similar to that prescribed to the narrator in "The Yellow Wallpaper." For Gilman, the act of resuming her normal life, which certainly included writing, was what restored her health.Though we don't know what became of Gilman's narrator, we can chronicle Gilman's own life after her near mental breakdown.Reviewers focus on the relationship between the narrator and her husband John, maintaining that John's treatment of his wife represents the powerlessness and repression of women during the late nineteenth century.Hedges concluded that the story is ''one of the rare pieces of literature we have by a nineteenth-century woman which directly confronts the sexual politics of the male-female,...If Gilman's narrator in "The Yellow Wallpaper" regressed into her insanity, Gilman certainly did not; unlike the narrator she created, she made her voice heard.She pursued her career as a writer and lecturer, and she wrote works of theory and social commentary that brought her international fame.Though she concentrated on feminist issues, her influence reached beyond the woman's sphere.She has been compared by some critics to the author George Bernard Shaw and the art critic John Ruskin, and the London Chronicle compared her book, Women and Economics, to the writings of John Stuart Mill.


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