The Liberating Madness

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Name Class Prof Date A Liberating Madness in “The Yellow Wallpaper” What is madness? And what is the state we define as sanity? Mental illness is characterized by disturbances in a person’s thoughts, emotions, or behavior. However there is no universally accepted definition. In general, the definition of mental illness depends on a society’s norms, or rules of behavior. According to Encarta Online Encyclopedia, Behaviors that violate these norms are considered signs of deviance or, in some cases, of mental illness. Therefore sanity and insanity are better understood as a construction of the society we live in. Gilman’s Yellow Wallpaper portrays a woman’s struggle against society’s expectations, and her journey into madness as a means to…show more content…
John knows perfectly well that he is in control. As she continues to examine the wallpaper, she is able to distinguish two different patterns: “I didn’t realize for a long time what the thing was that showed behind, that dim sub-pattern” (Gilman 16). For the first time, she is able to see herself as an independent person, not as her husband’s possession or object of gratification of her culture. Later, feelings of frustration and anger emerge as a result of the discrepancies between her desires and her obligations: “I can see a strange, provoking, formless sort of figure” (Gilman 9). The narrator proceeds to acknowledge her entrapment: “the faint figure behind seemed to shake the pattern, just as if she wanted to get out” (Gilman 14). The climax comes when the narrator visualizes the figure as a woman who finally rebels: “The front pattern does move –and no wonder! The woman behind shakes it” (Gilman 20). At this point she is fully aware of the effect, “pattern” is having on the woman, and on herself. The trapped woman is being strangled because of her “defiance"; she is being trapped and strangled by society’s conventions for work, words, roles and behavior. It is only after this process of self-recognition and acknowledgement that the narrator will be able to take a step forward towards her liberation. The narrator achieves her liberation as she merges with the woman in the wallpaper. By the end of the story, the narrator can
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