Charlotte Perkins Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper

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Historically, marriage was not seen as the equal partnership that our society considers it today. In the late nineteenth century, society placed women in a more subservient role where a husband had the ability to control his wife. Also, during this time in history, medical science had very little understanding of mental illness and how to treat it. In the short story, “The Yellow Wallpaper” author Charlotte Perkins Gilman shows us a woman’s descent into complete madness. The narrator of this story is suffering from post-partum depression and her husband, who happens to also be a doctor, prescribes a rest cure that only worsens her condition as she becomes fixated on the hideous yellow wallpaper in her room. She imagines and becomes obsessed with a woman trapped within the yellow wallpaper. Her husband’s unfortunate cure places his wife in seclusion with no intellectual or creative stimuli and unintentionally causes the narrator to…show more content…
Reflecting on her child, she states “I cannot be with him, it makes me nervous” (Gilman 365). Throughout the story she is separated from her baby and rarely mentions him. In the late nineteen century, physicians were trained to focus on the physical aspect of healing and little was understood about mental health. The narrator’s husband John, who also acts as her physician, does not understand what his wife is experiencing. He views her condition as “a slight[ly] hysterical tendency” (Gilman 364). He dismisses what she is feeling and does not view her illness as being real. Due to his lack of understanding, he believes her illness to be something she can control. He tells her, “[she] must use [her] will and self-control and not let any silly fancies run away with [her]” (Gilman 367). Because of his medical training, he only focuses on the physical aspects of her condition completely ignoring the emotional and mental
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