William Faulkner's The Yellow Wallpaper

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“The Yellow Wallpaper” “The Yellow Wallpaper” is a story that explores the advancing depression and psychosis of a woman during a time in which women had few rights and were given little respect. The overall theme of this piece is to explore the gender roles of women during the nineteenth century. The Victorian era was one of extreme restrictions on the economic status as well as the individuality and sexuality of women. Perhaps the most important aspect of this story is the author’s use of symbolism to allow the reader to draw their own conclusions about the dynamic of the main character’s relationship with her husband, as well as her mental state. One aspect of the story that is striking relates to the fact that the entire piece is…show more content…
It is complete with beautiful parlors and gardens and yet several aspects of the house call into question whether it is in fact a house, or a former institution. In the 19th century, a number of women were committed to mental institutions for questionable reasons that mainly stemmed from the prevailing social attitudes towards women. “Women with symptoms were later diagnosed insane for reasons such as religious excitement, epilepsy, and suppressed menstruation.” (Qtd. In Pouba and Tianen. Paragraph 1) There are numerous descriptions that point to the fact that she could perhaps be staying in an old asylum. She is not allowed to leave her room and her husband has taken extreme control over all activities in her daily life. There is a maid, or perhaps a nurse, who tends to her and when you look down the hall there is a gate that locks doing down the stairs. She spends her days looking outside of her window, which is also barred so that she cannot get out. She is trapped within a world that has been created for her by her husband in the interest of “keeping her safe.” No matter how she remarks on the beauty of the house she always refers back to the same feeling that “there is something queer about…show more content…
After the original release of “The Yellow Wallpaper” in The New England Magazine in 1891, her intent and purpose for writing this story was called into question. Several physicians protested it and claimed that it would drive people mad just from reading it. Gilman set out to explain her reasoning by describing her own experience with a doctor during her treatment for a nervous disorder. The doctor told her to life a domestic life in which she had some sort of mental stimulation two hours a day but “to never touch pen, brush or pencil ever again.” (Qtd. In Gilman. Paragraph 4) She followed his recommendation for three months and found herself to be on the verge of a major nervous breakdown. Afterwards she set out to write “The Yellow Wallpaper” to show what it is like to be slowly slipping into madness as a result of the resting cure being prescribed at the time. She sent a copy of the story to her physician but never heard back from him, although she did find that upon reading it he changed his methods of prescription of nervous illnesses. (Gilman. Paragraph 9) Gilman’s life ended at age 75 when she committed suicide after discovering that she had an inoperable form of
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