Thinking Critically About “the Yellow Wallpaper”

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Thinking Critically About “The Yellow Wallpaper” “The Yellow Wallpaper” is a short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman which takes us into the maddening mind of a mental patient who has recently been entered into institutionalized treatment at an asylum. The story is essentially a collection of the narrator’s journal entries. Through the reporting of the narrator’s thoughts, the reader is able to witness the psychological horrors that she experiences, and clearly see her progressively becoming more ill and crazy as time passes (as we get further into the story). This begs the question: are these traditional techniques and approaches for treatment actually helping or hindering the narrator from ultimately recovering? Using the critical thinking methods of asking questions, examining evidence and accepting uncertainties can help to answer this question, as well as examine the author’s intentions behind writing this interesting and unusual story. There are many questions that first need to be asked in order to determine what exactly is going on in this story. The fact that the reader is given only the one perspective of the narrator, who happens to be the person that is insane, leaves a number of things unclear and many uncertainties. Why is she obsessed with the wallpaper? What is the wallpaper supposed to represent and does it have a greater meaning? Many of these questions are answered as the story unfolds, but the beginning of this story can be quite confusing as the reader simply does not have sufficient information. The first basic questions that need to be answered are: Is the narrator the person that is sick? If so, what is the nature of her illness? Where exactly is she in this story? As the story progresses, her journal writings become increasingly more insane and further detached from reality. The answer becomes obvious by the end --- yes, she is the

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