A Slight Hysterical Tendency – An Analysis of The Yellow Wallpaper Fiction by standard definition is a body of literary work that is not real, or is imagined. So what do you get when you have a story that is in fact fiction, but is so personal to the author that is could almost be considered autobiographical? You get the fictional story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, “The Yellow Wallpaper.” The story about a woman who is suffering from postpartum psychosis is parallel to the difficulties that Gilman faced in her own life. At a time in history when women were thought to be hysterical and not taken seriously especially in the area of mental health, Gilman bravely brought the topic to the surface in a dark, but truthful manner. Her use of imagery and personification throughout the writing draws the reader into the sick mind of a young mother struggling to find herself again and broaches the issue of feminism.
The narrator’s husband, “John is a physician, and perhaps( I would not say it to a living soul, of course, but this is dead paper and a great relief to my mind) that is one reason I do not get well Faster. You see he does not believe I am sick.”(527) Before entirely reading this I got confused right away from the page. Why would she believe John, a physician, think he’s making her chances of recovering deplete? He believes she is not sick but just has nervous depression. What did she do to be so depressed all the time?
In "The Approximate Size of My Favorite Sharif2 Tumor", (Sherman Alexie) tells how one man tries to use humor to deny the reality of his terminal cancer. He shows how humor can be taken too far. This story demonstrates how humor can destroy one part of your life as it helps you cope with another. Trying to look at it in different perceptive, jimmy has a terminal cancer and he dearly loves his wife watching the people you love go through stages of knowing you’re going to die is very depressing. what jimmy did was humor the people around him, seeing the his wife smile even though he was ill made him happy although Norma hated that he jokes a lot about his tumor.
The narrator’s obsession with the wallpaper that surrounds her bedroom begins merely as intrigue and climaxes to a point where reality and what she imagines within the wallpaper becomes blurred. This climax represents her journey from rationality to insanity as the wallpaper becomes more twisted and alive around her. This wallpaper ultimately represents the oppression of her mind that is being caused by her post partum depression, as well as her husband’s ineffective healing methods. At first she finds the wallpaper being “one of those sprawling, flamboyant patterns committing every artistic sin” (Gilman 988). This could be a representation of the beginning of her depression which was initially just an annoyance to her which she does not fully understand.
The room she stays in has yellow wallpaper that will later contribute to her psychological downfall along with the oppression felt from her environment. In both pieces of literature, the authors use a technique of gradually progressing the characters deterioration of their mental capacity. Through dramatic irony and other literary devices, the reader is permitted to see the depth of the characters illness. The narrator in “The Yellow Wallpaper”, stays in a bedroom that was an old nursery which has an unattractive yellow wallpaper on the walls. To the narrator, the wallpaper is a nuisance and the pattern makes no sense to her.
Gilman uses symbols to explain the how women are trapped in domestic life. The symbol that Gilman uses the yellow wallpaper in the room she is confined in. At first, the wallpaper is just awful as she says “The color is repellent, almost revolting; a smoldering unclean yellow.” She is disgusted by it and understands why children, who have been in this room, would want to tear it down. Then, the wallpaper becomes a point of curiosity as she wants to discover the organization of the pattern. She said, “...and I determine for the thousandth time that I will follow that pointless pattern to some sort of a conclusion,” as if the wallpaper was made with symmetry in mind.
So Victor does just that, but after it awakes, he is filled with disgust and hates his creation because in his eyes it is ugly. “But now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart.” (Page 56) A true mother doesn’t care what their child looks like, they love it anyways. Next, the major theme of this novel is the women’s role in families. During Victor’s dream, he sees Elizabeth turn into the corps of his mother. This reinforces the idea that women are frail and weak.
Women are seen as being the cause of sickness within men when they fall in ‘love’ with a woman. For example the quote, ‘And now he is half sick with it and will go to the tables no more for lack of heart and never again even pats the bustling rump of the chamber maid in his new-found, maudlin celibacy’, highlights this point, as the use of ‘half sick with it’ indicates that the ‘master’ is sick, with love being the ‘it’ referred to by the narrator. This difference is, however, a small one when comparing all aspects of Carters short stories. The next difference being the forms her short stories take. Although the content of her books are classed as gothic,
The wife from “The Yellow Wallpaper” is obviously mentally ill. She might suffer from depression, schizophrenia, or a personality disorder, but we are never for sure. Throughout this literary work, the wife is shuffled around and not given much freedom. Her husband, a doctor, advises her of what to do and what not to do. For the majority of the piece, the wife is stuck in a room consisting of few objects and horrendously disturbing yellow wallpaper. Not only does her husband manipulate her into staying in bed and thinking she is completely helpless and ill, but the yellow wallpaper also manipulates her into having strange thoughts.
The wallpaper is used characterically to reflect the marriage the narrator finds herself ambushed inside. At the start of the short story, the wallpaper is merely seen as an aberrant bore, but as the narrative progresses, the wallpaper becomes much more baleful and frightening. As a site of symbolism, the symbol has three functions in Charlotte Perkins Gilman s ’, “The Yellow Wallpaper”: it reveals the wallpaper including the imagery, imprisonment and symbolism. The imagery of the wallpaper in Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” transitions as the short story is developed in order to emulate the increasing realization of the monopoly the narrator’s marriage has upon herself. The very first descriptions illustrate her initial animus by describing it as “one of those sprawling flamboyant patterns committing every artistic sin” (Perkins 41-42).