Theme Of The Yellow Wallpaper

1023 words - 4 pages

The Yellow WallpaperCharlotte Perkins Gilman's story "The Yellow Wallpaper" is an account of a mentally disturbed woman and her husband's attempts to help her get well by convincing her that continual seclusion and constant bed rest is the only way to cure her psychological condition. The woman is then confined to a room in which she slowly begins to go insane. "The Yellow Wallpaper" is not so much a description of female insanity as it is a story that explores a female's standing in society in the late 1800s.During the time in which Gilman's piece was written, women were not often prominent figures in society. Men frequently dominated them, and it was rare to find a very outspoken female willing to stand up for her own well-being. This is the narrator's main problem in the story. She has never been told to advocate her own ideas and stand up for herself, so it is no wonder that she naturally accepts what her husband tells her. For example, when he suggests that her nervous condition can be cured with excessive quantities of rest, she accepts this and agrees to separate herself from others until she is well again. Part of the issue deals with self-worth and the woman's ineptness with self-esteem. For instance, at one point in the story the woman states, "Personally, I disagree with their [John and her brother] ideas. Personally, I believe that congenial work, with excitement and change, would do me good. But what is one to do?" The last sentence displays the woman's constant inability to stick up for herself when she has ideas that differ from those of the influential males in her life.When the narrator tells her husband that the room she is being restricted to is probably not the best choice, considering the many other rooms in the estate, he is quick to dismiss her fears and plead with her to act sanely. Clearly John, being a medical doctor, does not believe anything unless it has been documented. This is why he comes across as so insensitive to his wife's needs. John is not an antagonist in this story, however, because he honestly feels that he is doing the right thing to try to get his wife on the road to recovery. Still, it is obviously Gilman's intent to evoke emotions in the reader that tend to sympathize more with the narrator than with the husband's inability to care for his wife.Later in the story, John tries to manipulate his wife with guilt. He tells her that she must think of herself getting better, and she will. He tells her that she must do this not for her own sake, but for the sake of others. Even though the narrator realizes that her mental stability is only deteriorating, she continues to stay in her room, because she knows that she does not have much of a say in the matter.As the yellow wallpaper begins to play into the storyline, the narrator's eccentricities begin to show through. As she continues to be trapped...

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