Comparing Jane Eyre and Yellow Wallpaper

1650 Words 7 Pages
Similarities Between Jane Eyre and Yellow Wallpaper

There are notable similarities between Charlotte Perkins Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper and Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. These similarities include the treatment of space, the use of a gothic tone with elements of realism, a sense of male superiority, and the mental instability of women.

There is a similar treatment of space in the two works, with the larger, upstairs rooms at the summer lodging and at Thornfield Hall being associated with insanity and the smaller rooms below being safer and saner. Gilman's narrator expresses an early desire to move downstairs to a smaller, saner room, but her wish is ignored. Large rooms become haunted rooms in both stories as typified by
…show more content…
A motif of doubling between a sane woman and a madwoman exists in both works. In The Yellow Wallpaper the narrator is doubled by the ghostly image of a creeping woman behind the pattern of the paper. Bertha serves as Jane's mad double in Jane Eyre. The mad double is used as a warning of the future potential of the narrator. Unheeded, as in The Yellow Wallpaper, the doubles conflate and the narrator goes mad. Throughout The Yellow Wallpaper, John, the narrator's physician husband, patronizes her, trivializes her illness, ignores her intuitions and dismisses her intellect. He refers to her in non-human analogies, calling her "a blessed little goose" (15). Likewise, Rochester uses non-human analogies to refer to his women. His persistent diction for Jane is "fairy" and "sylph." More sinisterly, he refers to Bertha with bestial imagery. Despite the positive nature of the imagery for Jane, it is nonetheless non-human imagery, differing thus in degree and intent but not in substance from his diction for his mad wife. The non-human diction for women reflects a patriarchal sense of superiority on the part of the men who use it.

In her book Women's Madness, Misogyny or Mental Illness, Ussher notes that in the Victorian era, hysteria was diagnosed primarily in strong, outspoken women: in other words: women who transgressed the ideal of true womanhood and thus challenged patriarchy. This is
Open Document