Charlotte Perkins Gilman 's The Yellow Wallpaper

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Imagine being waited on hand and foot in a mansion, yet removed from society, your own baby and any work that arouses your mind. Such is the life of the wife in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper, whose husband diagnoses her with a temporary nervous depression and leaves her to his improper care which includes isolation, lots of medication and a strict suspension of mental stimulation. The short story reflects the excessive power of men over their wives during the nineteenth century, while challenging the patriarchal conditions in unconventional manners. Despite her husband’s positive intentions, his remedies become the conditions that drive her completely insane. Despite the irrationality of the narrator’s insanity to others,…show more content…
The narrator’s pursuit of finding a conclusion to the pattern is very significant because it is symbolic of her wanting to figure out the purpose and meaning of her own life. When she quotes, “You think you have mastered it, but just as you get well underway in following, it turns a back-somersault and there you are. It slaps you in the face, knocks you down, and tramples upon you”, I interpret her to not only be describing the difficulty of figuring out the pattern in front of her, but also the difficulty of figuring out how to escape the oppressive patterns of her own life and the mental illness that keeps her locked down in bed. During this time, the narrator also reflects on memories as a child when her imagination provided her safety and a sense of refuge in the “one chair that always seemed like a strong friend” (pg. 103). Though the narrator may not have known her husband during the time of the memory, Gillman uses this flashback to confirm that the narrator’s misunderstood imagination has always empowered and benefitted her in some way. Therefore, if John forbids her to take part in any stimulating tasks, including creative writing, she will become weaker over time. That is exactly what proceeds to happen in the story. This compels his wife to take up a competitive obsession with the wallpaper.
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