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The Yellow Wallpaper Essay

The Yellow Wallpaper Essay
A Rose For Emily

Water 2

Iris Levenson


Instructor – Steve Grundmeier                   


Course – English 1B


Date – February 13. 2005


                                                                     A Critical Analysis of “The Yellow Wallpaper”


The story shows clear evidence that in the period of the 18th and early 19th century there was a


well defined dividing line between the sexes. The term Women’s Sufferage was very


 appropriate for the time.  Women were victims. One article that expresses this well, states that


women were vulnerable to inadequate diagnosis. Most women’s ailments were caused by the


sexual organs.  This states one example of the differentiating between the sexes. Hysteria, known


as, The Daughters Disease was believed to be caused by aberrations in the reproductive system.


The cure was rest and sustaining from all intellectual stimulation. In the story the narrator has


been diagnosis with hysteria and temporary nervous depression.  This diagnosis was also based


on the author’s own experience which is depicted in the story. It is interesting to find that within


that time frame Winifred Howell and Edith Wharton also women writers were diagnosed and


treated in the same manner. The narrator of the story describes, the house that the protagonist of


 the story, selects for her prescribed rest as haunted and alienated. From the tone of the writing


 This would probably be something she would not choose, for her convalescence had her opinion


 been valued. The room that is selected for her was historically a nursery. This would be


 symbolic in keeping her childlike.  There are bars on the windows and hideous yellow wallpaper


 , with patterns of circles. The patterns on the wallpaper would be symbolic to her life as there


are no openings for escape. The color of the wallpaper is also symbolic as yellow being cowardly,


 ugly, and inferior.  The bed is bolted, reflecting the image of lack of choice.  As the narrator


 makes reference to “Myself” as it is stated, she doesn’t consider herself part of ordinary people.


The narrator makes reference to her writing as, dead paper, when she is speaking about the


 antagonist as the reason she is not getting well faster. The dead paper would be for her eyes only


 and the treatment is not realistic as a cure for her condition. Stating historically women’s


 misdiagnosis.   Perhaps what is missing is a cause for the ailment, which would be the


 underlying factor that created it in the first place. The narrator waits till her husband goes into


town, which allows her the freedom to write.  The protagonist warns her that with her


Weakness, she mustn’t give way to her imaginative power and imaginative story making. As the


story progresses it quietly submerges in a woman’s descent into madness. A descent not stopped


but escalated by the cure prescribed that was supposed to help her. She is weakening, and


beginning to see images in the pattern of the wallpaper. At first rationalizing her vision has been


created by the way the light hits the wall and assumes they are shadows, but then begins to describe


What she sees, as a strange, provoking formless figure that seems to skulk. The narrator does


state very clearly that she is aware of her being too tired to turn her head. She cries all the time at


nothing. She begins to obsess over the wallpaper and uses words like confusion and grotesque,


but what she is doing is describing her own feelings. The antagonist uses words, as he needs to


draw her closer to his dependency of her. She is his darling, his comfort and all he has.


The narrator surrenders. As the story ends the narrator referrers to her creeping state, where she


identifies herself with the, shadow woman in the wallpaper who is trapped. Crawling is


emblematic of the crudest form of servility. She could not get any lower.



 Sites for Information


THE INTERNET – Web site – Charlotte Perkins Gilman Society,  DOMESTIC GODDESS Copy write, Kim Wells  1998, a.k.a Scribbliing mobs of Women


 MSN ENCARTA- The Literature Guild -  S.Weir Mitchell, 1887,. The                                 treatment for Neurasthenia and Hysteria


Encyclopedia online MSN ENCARTA 2005 – WOMEN AND ECONOMICS, The Women Hall of Fame for Charlotte Perkins Gilman


University of Toledo libraries, Barbara Floyd, Archivist,  19th Century America Womens Health Care


American Literature research and analysis WEB SITE, under the direction of Dr. Jim Wahlport, Florida Gulf Coast University








********There were never any specific page numbers, for the original works. The information was completely taken off the web sites indicated.




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