Madness In The Yellow Wallpaper

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Discuss madness in relation to Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’. The ‘revolting’(pg 3) paper is the eponymous metaphor of the novella. The wallpaper has layers, hidden depths and intricacies which can only be seen by close examination and only understood by the narrator by her when her obsessive interrogation of it reaches its disturbing climax. This wallpaper is an allegory which represents the complications of a woman’s position in conventional marriage behind the façade, or outer ‘pattern’(pg 3) of the sanction. Throughout the text, Gilman attempts to uncover the often disturbing truths that lurk beneath the surface of something seemingly innocent with reference to her own socio-economic philosophy; that is the economics of marriage and the nature of the mentally destructive sub-ordination of women within it. The room in which the narrator is confined proposes problems for her immediately. She instantly recognises that there is ‘something queer’(pg 1) about it and the presence of the bars, rings and it’s nailed down bed besides making it reminiscent of an asylum, give it also a constricting atmosphere which illustrates the physical oppression of women in a broader sense, how married women in the nineteenth century would be part of a domestic, private sphere and the man would be part of a more public sphere, like John who is frequently absent during his wife’s ‘treatment’. By taking into account Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own , we can fully appreciate, as Woolf insists, the importance of a physical and metaphorical space in which to engage with one’s creativity and personality. It is this freedom or ‘room of (her) own’ the narrator is denied as she is prevented from having any say in her physical environment or even how best to channel her anxieties and imaginative urges which ultimately lead to the deterioration of her mental state.
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