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Mrs. H. Myers
15 February 2017
Analysis of " The Yellow Wallpaper "
Life during the 1800s for a woman was rather distressing. Society had essentially designated them the role of being a housekeeper and bearing children. They had little to no voice on how they lived their daily lives. Men decided everything for them. To clash with society's conventional views is a challenging thing to do; however, Charlotte Perkins Gilman does an excellent job fighting that battle by writing "The Yellow Wallpaper," one of the most ca ptivating pieces of literature f rom her time. By using the conventions of a narrative, such as character, setting, and point of view, she is capable of bringing the reader into a world that society during that time would have mocked. Gilman uses the motif of irony, the sy mbolism of the wallpaper, and her writing style to create the themes of the subordination of women to men and the importance of self-expression in "The Yellow Wallpaper."
"The Yellow Wallpaper" is a short story about an anonymous woman, the narrator, that is mentally ill and her husband John, who is also a doctor. John moves the family out to the countryside to implement the rest cure, which is a regimen of forced bed rest, restricted diet, and a combination of massage and muscle stimulation in place of exercise (Harris 1 ), into the narrator's care plan. John forbids her to do anything that will over exert her mind, especially writing, and orders her to stay in a large, airy room. While she stay s in the room, she becomes obsessed with its yellow wallpaper that she describes as "repellent, almost revolting." (4). She eventually starts seeing faces in the paper's pattern and becomes convinced that there is a woman trapped underneath the wallpaper and wants to free her. She ultimately decides that the day of her departure is the day to do so. She sets her plan into motion by locking herself in the room to keep John from stopping her. She begins to tear all the wallpaper off the of the wall and once the woman is free the narrator creeps along the floor with her. The story ends with the narrator creeping over John's limp body after he faints from seeing her in this state of insanity.
The mood of the story shifted from nervous, anxious, hesitant even, to tense and secretive, and shifts again to paranoid and determination. Her anxiousness is evident whenever she talks to John. She always seems to think for lengthy time when attempting to express her concerns about her condition to him. The mood shift from anxious to secretive is clear when she writ e s " I ha d no intention of telling him it was BECAUSE of the wall-paper." (9). She wants no one to figure out the affect the wallpaper has on her and she wants to be the only one to figure out its pattern. The final mood shift to determination is obvious when she writes "But I am here, and no person must touch this paper but me - not ALIVE!" (11). She is steadfast in attempting to free the woman from the wallpaper. She even goes as far as to lock herself in the room to make sure that she is not interrupted. The major conflicts of this story are the narrator versus John over the nature of her illness and its treatment and the narrator's internal struggle to express herself and claim independence. During the entire story her and John's views about her treatment conflict with each other, especially when it comes to her writing. He even makes her stay in the room upstairs instead of in a prettier room downstairs that she would prefer. She often keeps her views to herself or writes t hem down in her journal to express herself but it is hard for her to do so because she feels that it "cultivates deceit." (8). The climax of the story occurs when the narrator completely identifies herself with the woman trapped under the wallpaper because this is the point where the reader knows that she has finally lost her sanity
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