3 March 2011
“Sanctuary outside of the Sanctuary “
The idea of sanctuary has several different dimensions. It is much more than a church, temple, or religious place. The abstract idea of sanctuary is explored in both Cynthia Ozick's “The Shawl” and Charlotte Perkins Gillman's “The Yellow Wallpaper”. Both of the works take into account two eras of history. “The Yellow Wallpaper” addresses a time when women were thought of as inferior while “The Shawl” addresses the Holocaust. The characters in these stories cling to and explore the idea of sanctuary in so far as: love, death, refuge, shelter and other ways.
In Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” the idea of sanctuary is not what one expects it to be at first. An idea of what sanctuary is and what it is not is shown throughout this story. Most should find that a marriage is a safe haven but for the narrator of “The Yellow Wallpaper” it is not. Her marriage is troubling and due to that she suffers from depression. When the narrator is put away in a room as a part of the “resting cure”, this should exemplify sanctuary at its greatest level. Although to her husband this may be his idea of a sanctuary for her but her eyes it is nothing like that. Her husband, John found this room to be a good place for her because it fit his own ideals for what a sanctuary for a woman should be. He finds it acceptable for a woman to sit in a room all day, with nothing to do. John especially finds it okay because he is a doctor and certainly he knows what is best for the medical being of his own wife or at least that is how he feels. John is secure and finds validity in what he is doing to his wife through knowing he is a doctor as well as his ideals of what a woman can and cannot do. Although he sees a continual decline, his acceptance and security blind him as she continuously loses her mind. Ultimately it is what John is comfortable with not her. Instead it is there in that room ‘barred for children” that she is anything but...