The short story The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is the journal writings of a woman suffering from postpartum depression after the birth of her baby boy. This story is about Gilmans own personal experience of postpartum depression, who was also prescribes bed rest as the fix. She wrote this story in hopes doctors would see that bed rest does not fix the problem but makes the persons mental status worst. Her journals are of her feelings which in due time breaks her down even more mentally. She is isolated in the big estate with her husband John, who is a physician, with the baby and nanny.
Her husband believes she is exaggerating her emotions and says she just needs bed rest and she will pull through this. This story not only focuses on mental illness but also the repression of woman during the nineteenth century by men they are married to. Because her feelings cant be voiced and are ignored this is what makes this story significant to the time period.
In the nineteenth century women were the completely dependent on their husbands they have no voice. Women during that time took care of the house and children while the men worked. If the woman has some form of a mental breakdown she would be labeled as being hysterical. She would be prescribed bed rest. The narrator in the story whose husband is a doctor has taken responsibility to care for her. They go to stay in this big estate where she can rest.
While she wants the room with the nice roses on the wall and nice view, he picks the room upstairs thats larger but has this hideous yellow wallpaper and bars on the window. Why go up against a well-respected doctor? If a physician of high standing, and one’s own husband, assures friends and relatives that there is really nothing the matter with one but temporary nervous depression a slight hysterical tendency what is one to do? (Gillman 526) He doesnt take her opinion in consideration and because he is the man of the house his ruling stands.
Not a lot of communication and decision making happen between them in this story especially during this time period since men are the dominant ones. John laughs at me, of course, but one expects that in marriage. (Gilman 526) Its common for men to demean their women and allow no disrespect all. This quote is another example on how she knows that men and women are not equal in the relationship.
As the days go on the narrator is in this room by herself staring at this ugly, torn yellow wallpaper. At first the wallpaper seems interesting to stare at. She then begins to cry more and is tired all the time. She asks John to see her friends, but he does not approve that request. She is to stay in the room and rest. She is not allowed to write even though she does.
There comes John, and I must put this away, – he hates to have me write a word (Gilma 528). He does not want her doing anything until she is better. Writing helps her depression, but she dares not mention that to John knowing that she is going against his way. As weeks go on staring at the wall paper, she starts to see a figure of a woman behind the bars of the wall paper. She believes the woman is her and she needs to get the woman free. From there on she works on freeing the woman.
The woman is her. The woman can stand on her own and is independent. Despite the ways that woman is supposed to be like during this time she is the opposite. She wants to break free from the solitary and confinement women suffer during this time period. She believes that if she was able to be free and move around how she would like too and write without peeking over her shoulders all the time that her healing process would be much faster.
But she dares not disobey her husband. During this time period I can only imagine how far women would have gotten if they were equal to men. Women during that time were not able to socialize their time was to be spent doing household chores and tending to the children. As time went on women began to protest and attend rallies to voice their opinions. And through those rallies and protest that how women were able to vote and have more choice now when it comes to their life.
Today we as woman have been able to run for president, we have roles as CEOs, we own businesses and everything, although we can work towards more but its always a work in progress, but we have come a long way. I can totally agree with her about bed rest cure is not helpful. Me personally when I get stressed and is home with nothing to do, no child its kind of makes me even sadder. It makes me feel lonely and even more stressed because all I can do about the things making me stress. I prefer to be doing stuff, especially talk. I love to talk and get things off my chest.
Writing doesnt help me because Im not really a writer and I would critique myself on it and just reading it would make me feel worst also. On the other hand, I do not believe in prescribed medicine for depression. I feel if you take the time and focus on the situation it can be fix with just time.
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