Humanitarian / Literature Book Report/Review


The Yellow Wallpaper Analysis

The Yellow Wallpaper Analysis

"The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is a book believed to be both fictional and factional. It tells the story of a young woman. All the events surrounding the narrator, who is also the protagonist, unambiguously details her steady mental descent from depression to psychosis. Gilman’s book, the yellow wallpaper, is an American classic that presents the struggles women face in a marginalized and patriarchal society using vivid psychoanalytic images. The writer uses different literary elements to show how the important roles the women play in society have been reduced to virtually nothing, causing them to extremely suffer from serious mental diseases.

In "The Yellow Wallpaper" analysis, we get to know, through all the recurring themes and literary devices in this Gothic book, how Gilman vibrantly illustrates many of the social concerns of the womenfolk in this contemporary age. Evident in the book is the theme of escapism. This theme psychoanalytically presents to the readers how the weight of patriarchal repression, and how the efforts of women to escape this can often lead to serious depression and psychosis in the long run (Berman, 1985; Hedges, 1992).

As mentioned earlier, "The Yellow Wallpaper" is a story about a young woman. It a first-person narrative novel that tells the story of her gradual mental descent to psychosis. The story opens with the narrator admiring the magnificent country estate her husband, John, a doctor, had taken for their family summer vacation. The narrator continues by letting us know that her husband is her doctor and this move was partly done to facilitate her recovery from the “nervous depression” she developed after the birth of their child.

The narrator continues to explain that her husband had no regard for her illness, her concerns, and thoughts, altogether, even though he was quite positive that his move would make her recovery smoother and faster. She further explains that they are nothing alike, especially in their practical and rational approach to imaginative and sensitive matters.

Although the narrator loves to write, her treatment bars her from doing anything “active”. She thinks otherwise and reveals that rigidity and inactivity are the things that would worsen her condition. She unveils her secret about a secret journal she keeps to “relieve her mind”.

In the bid to “relieve her mind”, the narrator starts to describe the house again. In her description, she mentions the ugly, yellow wallpaper and strongly criticizes. She complains to her husband about the wallpaper and begs him to change their rooms, but he refuses. It is this wallpaper that drives her crazy in the end, as her repressed thoughts and emotion against the room began to materialize in the form of hallucinations and whatnots.

"The Yellow Wallpaper" is a narrative work that's highly rich in imagery and symbolism. We can see how Gilman uses the symbol and image of the yellow wallpaper to represent the limitations placed on women in a patriarchal society (Suess, 2003).

In the story, the narrator tries hard to seek an escape from the room by asking that her husband change it. After he refuses, she eventually discovers a sort of escape from physical imprisonment through perception (Barry, 2014). As a result of her loathing for the yellow wallpaper, the narrator begins to intensely scrutinize the flowery essence of the wallpaper and, in that manner, also seeks her self. Even though the conduct of her husband – and the society at large – has restricted her from discovering herself, she uses her writings to somewhat remove herself from the emotional, physical and psychological prison that she was placed.

In the story, the nursery bedroom upstairs is used to represent a prison. The floral designs on the yellow paper are symbols for prison bars. “At night in any kind of light ... it becomes bars! The outside pattern I mean, and the woman behind it as plain as can be” (Kirszner & Mandell, 2010). These are vivid representations of the imprisonment of female gender in a male-dominated society and the repression of the most important roles women play in this same society.

The narrator was so eager to get her freedom, not only from the physical, which is the room but also from the mental and social prison of the "men's world", a world of abject dependency and isolation from intellectual expression (Jean, 2002). Despite her disapproval of the manner of treatment, as well as the environment she’s in, the narrator is left with no choice than to resign to the dictates of her husband who forbids her from taking action when she ought to and writing. The helplessness represents how women her destitute to the stifling their rights of expression, association, and free will. The husband's insensitivity to the needs and emotions of his wife, despite her illness, is what causes the narrator's eventual psychosis at the end of the novel (Berman, 1985).

The experiences of the narrator with the yellow wallpaper, though mostly imaginary, through a superficial examination of the wallpaper patterns (an act used to represent the women’s struggle to find themselves), shows her serious attempts to escape isolation and repression. Although she eventually finds an escape, in the end, the result is not a favorable one even to her husband who fainted. She was forced into madness, and this shows how the patriarchal subjugation of women can cause serious problems in society if not closely looked at (BarryThe Yellow Wallpaper Analysis, 2014).

We can see through "The Yellow Wallpaper" analysis and the experiences of the narrator how society is structured against women and in favor of men. How the continuous repression of women’s rights can cause serious issues in society; inevitably leading to “psychosis” or societal breakdown and chaos.

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