In The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, the male figures make a big influence on Jane and help her sanity degrade into insanity. Throughout the story, Gilman includes Janes husband, John, and states his opinions about Jane and her unusual obsession with the yellow wallpaper in Janes journal entries. In fact, John is the first person stated in the short story. In the story, the author mentions John in every journal entry.
When he is mentioned, most of them entail that he opposes or disagrees with Janes opinions about transferring rooms. His oppositions lead Jane to stay in the room she wishes to move out of. By showing that her loved ones estrange Jane, Gilman implies that Janes family unintentionally worsens Janes sickness by her lack of freedom.
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The narrator thinks innocent thoughts about her marriage with John. In the story, she writes in her journal: John laughs at me, of course, but one expects that in marriage”(647) and he is very careful and loving, and hardly lets me stir without special direction.(648) Jane takes these comments humorously at first, but what she doesnt know is that he is making fun of her. As the story evolves, she develops an attitude and gets angry at John, but blames it on her illness. In one of the lines, Gilman writes, in Janes perspective I get unreasonably angry with John sometimes.
Im sure I never used to be so sensitive. I think it is due to this nervous condition.(648) When Jane starts talking to John about the wallpaper and about how atrocious it looks, she expects John to support and listen to her. But instead, he ignores her, so Jane writes: He said I was letting it get the better of me, and that nothing was worse for a nervous patient than to give way to such fancies.”(649) This quote shows that John neglected Janes wishes and he was against Janes opinion.
John is a physician, so he cant always stay with Jane. When John is away, Jane tries to find a way to kill time by going out on walks, getting fresh air, exercising, and writing. She also did those things to get her mind off of her thoughts. Jane really didnt have much to do, so most of the time she stayed in her room.
Because John didnt transfer or renovate her room, all Jane could think about was the wallpaper and how atrocious it looked since she had nothing else to do. If John had changed her room, she wouldnt have focused too much on the wallpaper. Also, Jane wouldnt have gone completely insane.
This story was written in a way that women were controlled and influenced by a male figure. John isolates Jane from other people because of her mental illness. Along with her physical seclusion, Jane feels that she doesnt have the freedom to do what she wants. She had to write her journal entries in secrecy because her husband hates to have her write a word.(649) In the beginning, John chose the room without conferring with Jane. She also wishes to move rooms several times throughout the story because it made her very uncomfortable, but John denies her request every time. Jane wants to rent a different room because the yellow wallpaper is absolutely revolting. John denies her request saying, You know the place is doing you good, and really, dear, I dont care to renovate the house just for a three months rental.(649) He has a point and has no intention of hurting her.
John tries to help Jane get better. Instead of confining Jane in an asylum as many people would do, he takes her three miles away from the village because he thought that giving her air and space from people would help her. This implies that he is a caring husband and wants to help his wife, who has a temporary nervous depression. John still gets Jane a therapist, so she could have someone to talk to, and also to have someone monitor her, but its all out of good intentions. When John said, I dont care to renovate the house just for a three months rental(649), he says it because its true. Renovating a house when you are just renting it is useless because youre not permanently staying there. But also, he didnt know that the wallpaper was severely affecting her and changing her mindset.
Charlotte Perkins Gilman proposes that males decisions influence what women believe and do by stating examples of how Janes family deteriorating her health. Males expectations of women manipulate womens identities. Nowadays, girls feel that they have to act like someone that theyre not to get a guys attention. For example, wearing something revealing and changing their demeanor. But then when a girl doesnt get what or who they want, they either become too desperate and start to lose their true identity or beat themselves up for not being good enough.
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