The Yellow Wallpaper
Comparative Analysis of the Theme of Isolation in the Novel Yellow Wallpaper and Movie Shutter Island
Throughout the story Yellow Wallpaper and the movie Shutter Island the main characters find themselves led into a state of insanity through their isolation. In the story “The Yellow Wallpaper,” the narrator explains that she is suffering from postpartum depression, leaving her husband to treat her with rest cure or bed rest. During this time, she is placed in a solitary room with walls covered in yellow wallpaper. Similarly in Shutter Island Andrew Laeddis is a demented Shutter Island Patient. He made up a personality, nicknamed Teddy Daniels, to cope with the fact that he killed his wife after she drowned their children. The idea effectively adds to the mood and atmosphere and also contributes to the wife’s and andrews paranoia and hallucinations.
In the Yellow wallpaper because of the narrators isolation she becomes obsessed with wallpaper and this adds to the mood and atmosphere of the story. Without the wallpaper as a main driving point it would not have the same feeling of Isolation. “It is a big, airy room, the whole floor nearly, with windows that look all ways, and air and sunshine galore” (Gilman 2).
In this quote she explains where she is as big, airy, with windows, and sunshine. It is the wallpaper that makes it feel like she is trapped and isolated within. “Formless sort of figure, that seems to skulk about that silly and conspicuous front design” (Gilman 4). She sees figures in the wallpaper and is trapped within it and the wallpaper controls the mood and atmosphere throughout the story. As for Shutter Island, Andrews made up personality greatly affects the isolated mood and atmosphere of the story. To explain, in his made up personality he and his friend are trapped and isolated on the Island with nowhere to go. Without this idea of them being trapped on the island we would not get the same effect of the mood and atmosphere. Teddy Daniels: “I had a friend. I was with him yesterday, but we got separated. Have you seen him?” Rachel 2: “Marshal. . . you have no friends”. The only way off the island is the ferry, and they control it. You’ll never leave here” (Martin Scorsese).
This is an example of Andrews Isolation and it adds to the mood and atmosphere because without his made up personality he would simply be a sick patient on the Island whose live is already gone anyway. In the Yellow Wallpaper isolation is the central driving force to character and plot development and is a major cause to the wife’s paranoia and hallucinations because throughout the story she becomes more and more involved in the wallpaper and it eventually affects her sickness. “The bedstead is fairly gnawed! But I must get to work” (Gilman 11). As the story goes on she becomes more crazy and this an example of that because she thinks about chewing the bed like an animal whereas she wouldn’t have done this at the beginning when she didn’t have as many hallucinations. The isolation of the wallpaper is therefore a major reason for her paranoia and hallucinations. In shutter Island isolation is very similar in the way it affects Andrew because he used a different personality to deal with his sickness similar to how the wife used the wallpaper.
Teddy Daniels: “You know, this place makes me wonder.
Chuck Aule: Yeah, what’s that, boss? Teddy Daniels: Which would be worse – to live as a monster, or to die as a good man?”(Martin Scorsese). At the end of the film Andrew gave up on trying to save himself, and this shows how his isolation throughout the film made him realize what was really happening and that there was no way to stop it.
George Noyce: “This is a game. All of this is for you. You’re not investigating anything. You’re a fucking rat in a maze” (Martin Scorsese). This quote is another example of the isolation that there was because Andrew is being described as a rat with trapped in maze. In conclusion, both the Yellow Wallpaper and shutter Island rely on the theme of isolation as a central driving force to character and plot development. The idea effectively adds to the mood and atmosphere and also contributes to the wife’s and andrews paranoia and hallucinations.
Summary and Analysis of “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Stetson
The theme in this story is freedom and women being trapped in relationships with their significant other. The message for change in the story is that women can break the stereotype and do not have to be forced into a marriage. The message for change starts when she writes behind her husband’s back even though he doesn’t want her to. It finishes with the last day of the treatment and John is coming back to check on her.
The narrator was moved into an old abandoned nursery home by her husband who is also her physician. He takes care of her in the house, but he tells all of her loved ones that she will be fine and that she isn’t really sick. However she thinks otherwise. She was diagnosed with temporary nervous depression. The room that she was in had hideous wallpaper that she hated so much she wanted to move downstairs, however John, her husband wouldn’t let her. She continues to show her displeasure towards the wallpaper. She explained how the wallpaper had scratches all over as if “boys school had used it.” She continues to say how ugly the wallpaper is saying “I never saw a worse paper in my life” and “one of those sprawling flamboyant patterns committing every artistic sin.” She wanted to john to redew the wallpaper, but john said that she’s letting her imagination get the best of her. The thesis in this story is that women don’t have to follow the societal stereotype and marry early or at all, they can do what they want with their life.
The inciting moment in The Yellow Wallpaper is when the narrator disagrees with the mental treatment that her husband has her doing. She believes that if he would allow her to do a little bit of writing it would help her take her mind away from what she’s going through. “So I take phosphates or phosphites- whichever it is, and tonics, and journeys, and air, and exercise, and am absolutely forbidden to “work” until I am well again. Personally, I disagree with their ideas. Personally, I believe that congenial work, with excitement and change, would do me good.” This shows her displeasure for what John has her doing and the fact that she beliefs that if she could work, her mental state might improve.
The rising action in this story is when the narrator starts to write journals despite of john and his sister. John believes that if she writes she’s letting her mental fancies get the best of her and it will only make her condition get worse. In these personal journals she first wrote about how they first moved into this place, then about how something just wasn’t right about the house. However it quickly switched to her explaining how ugly the wallpaper is. As you move through the story, she starts to talk more and more about this wallpaper, it seems to turn into more of an obsession. She talks about how she thinks she sees someone through the wallpaper. At night she believed that there was someone behind the wallpaper shaking it and that’s why when she woke up in the morning the patterns were in different spots.
It was the last day of them staying in the house as part of her treatment. John was gone overnight with a client so he wouldn’t be back until the evening. She waited for night time until the person would start to shake the wallpaper. As soon as it started shaking, she ran over to the wall and started peeling as much of the wallpaper as she could to try to free whoever was behind it. She finally broke out the women on all fours and realized that she is now free. She saw all the creeping women outside and wondered if they had come out of the wallpaper just like her. She continued to creep around the room. Then John came knocking, she told him that the key is under the leaf, that silenced him for a few minutes. He finally got the key and walked and he asked what she was doing? She replied that she had finally got out in spite of you and Jane, and that she had pulled of the wallpaper and you can’t put her back.” Falling Action When john walks in he sees her creeping around and that she has escaped the wallpaper and got her freedom back, he cannot believe it. So, John faints in front of her in disbelief. She continues to creep around the room stepping over John every time.
She breaks free of the wallpaper and starts to creep around the room. After john has fainted she steps over him multiple times and refers to him as young man. Referring to the fact that he cannot control her anymore and that now he is the one who is mentally fragile not her.
The mood in the story is mostly sad and depressing because she can’t do anything due to her mental state and the fact that for the treatment to work, she isn’t allowed to do anything that may cause her distress or exhaust her. Due to this, the narrator for most of the story is sad and depressed about her situation. The atmosphere is mostly eerie, this is reinforced by the house that they are staying in. She even says that “there is something strange about the house, i can feel it.” This helps reinforce the fact that she is suffering from mental illness and how this abandoned house is a symbol of how women were treated in this time period. The house shows that women weren’t taken very seriously especially when it came to mental health.
The narrator reinforces the message for change by not listening to john. For example, she keeps a secret personal journal that she writes in everyday when John isn’t around. At the end of the story when she breaks out of the wallpaper, she shows her freedom by creeping around and not caring when john will do or think about what she is doing.
John doesn’t quite understand how sick the narrator is, but the reader knew the whole time. This shows how John wasn’t taking her case very seriously which was very common with women in this time period. They were thought to be mentally fragile so most of the time men didn’t think they were actually sick. It also shows how John was taking his other patients way more seriously then his loved ones. Foreshadowing- “I get unreasonably angry with John sometimes. I’m sure I never used to be so sensitive. I think it is due to this nervous condition.” This is showing that she is clearly very sick and it’s only a sign of things to come. This foreshadows to the fact that she is slowly becoming mentally insane and things will only get worse.
“I wish I could get well faster.” This shows that she assuming that she will get better eventually not realizing what could happen. It also makes the reader feel bad for the narrator because she is mentally sick, which most of us can’t relate to.
The house that they are staying in is a symbol of how women back in the day were treated with mental illness. In this story, she is put in an old abandoned house, her room and the wallpaper were scratched and are very ugly which displeases her a great deal and doesn’t help her mental state. This showed what women went through when getting treated for mental illness in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s.
The story “The Yellow Wallpaper”, by Charlotte Perkins Stetson demonstrates a feminist perspective because it reinforces the fact that women are free individuals with a choice and they do not need controlling husbands to guide them through their struggles and accomplishments. Stetson shows this through the main character, the narrator who at the start of the story always obeys her husband, she begins to rebel from what he wishes her to do once she realizes that there is no one she can really talk to and how he isn’t taking her case very seriously and focusing on other patients. For example a lot of time he would stay overnight with patients, helping them get through their struggles. However he rarely did this with his wife. “John is kept in town by serious cases.” This shows that John doesn’t believe her case is very serious. That demonstrates that since he thinks he’s mentally fragile, she’s not really suffering from a mental illness. “There comes John, and I must put this away, he hates for me to write a word.” This shows how her husband, John dictated what she did on a daily basis and only allowed her to do certain things. Once she realizes that there isn’t really anyone to talk to, she lets her mind and imagination be free, which is exactly what John didn’t want her doing. “And it is like a woman stooping down and creeping about behind that pattern. I do not like it a bit.” She is referring to the wallpaper and there isn’t anybody behind the wallpaper but her imagination is getting the best of her and taking over her mental state. Finally at the end of the story when she finally breaks out of the wallpaper and John comes in and faints. “I’ve got out at last, in spite of you and Jane? And I’ve pulled of the paper, so you can’t put me back! Now why should that man have fainted?” This shows that now she has escaped, she believes she is finally free from her controlling husband. She refers to him as that man which means that she believes that he is now the mentally fragile one not her, breaking the societal stereotype. The author believes that women were oppressed due to the patriarchal society, and the beliefs and norms that men had within our society.
The Yellow Wallpaper, a Feminist Manifesto
The Yellow Wallpaper is an indication for change within the patriarchal culture of society. The want for change is seen through a semi autobiography detailed by Charlotte Perkins Stetson. In the story, Stetson showcases the readers an occurrence comparable to what she had experienced during her time of being “sick”. During Stetson’s life, she had experienced post-partum depression, a type of mental disorder associated with childbirth. The symptoms of post-partum depression include, but not limited to, sadness, exhaustion, anxiety, changes in sleeping and eating patterns, irritability, and arbitrary crying. These symptoms were seen within the fictional character of Mary, our main protagonist with, exhaustion, sadness, and anxiety being some of the major problems that Mary faces with her life. The story makes clear indication of this illness at the beginning of the story “…with one but temporary nervous depression…”. Mary is suffering from depression, and does not get herself treated since, during the time of both the story and reality, men thought of these mental illnesses as ordinary after childbirth and made little to no concern of such illnesses. This is due to the patriarchal culture, during the late 1800s, when the story was published. The theme is general, is found within the beginning of the story, depression, sadness, oppression, seclusion, and ignorance of people during the 1880s.
We are introduced to a very secluded woman, her husband, a physician and Jennie, a maid as well as her sister in law. We are brought to this large house filled with the void of space. We see through the perspective of Mary as we dwell through her life, and her issues.
Inciting moment: We are introduced to this hideous yellow wallpaper, a representation of her mental illness, and with the introduction of the yellow wallpaper, Mary’s symptoms start to appear. Rising action: With each thought, and physical contact with the yellow wallpaper, we see Mary’s sanity start to decline with her symptoms worsening. Mary also begin to see a woman in the wallpaper, a direct representation of herself being caught in the depression of herself. Climax: The climax begins at page 653. Once she begins to take interest of the wallpaper and the mystery behind the woman in the wallpaper, her personality starts to shift. She becomes to become mentally unstable as she starts drastically going insane. She starts hallucinating about a “creeping woman” creeping about at night. She starts bickering back at her husband, which is unheard of during the patriarchal culture of society during the late 1800s. Falling Action: During the last day at being the house, Mary begins tearing down the yellow wallpaper, trying to get the woman out of the wallpaper. Indications of her being psychotic include “I bit off a little piece at one corner…” and “To jump put of the window would be admirable exercise…. Her personality has clearly changed and is no longer her sane self. This falling action is also in sync with her mentality falling.
Resolution: The resolution comes about with Mary calling out to her husband who is on the other side of the locked door. With his slow reactions and response, once he can open the door, he faints soon after. These indications all point to Mary committing suicide by being hanged. These indications include the husband being shocked, to the point of fainting, as well as Mary carrying a rope “But I am securely fastened now by my well-hidden rope…”. Presuming that Mary had committed suicide, we can see the reasoning with her deteriorating sanity, and neglecting from her husband, as well as seclusion from society.
The mood and atmosphere provide a sense of reality to the story itself. The story is seen through a character who is struggling with depression, as we see her strive for something to try to better this illness. The emptiness of the house sets up the atmosphere of alienation of the main protagonist, which forces her sanity to fall further down. We that our protagonist tries to find enjoyment within the seclusion of her home, with writing and napping, but son gets the sense of excitement due to the enigmatic wallpaper that is left unattended for many years. With each passing journal entry, we see the through her perspective, the broken life in which she fills, as each day proves to be the same as before, but with the inclusion of this bizarre yellow wallpaper, her life seems to take a turn for the better, but really, this creates a false sense of hope for our character, as she begins to watch the wallpaper, and find enjoyment out of it, demanding her life to be better for her husband’s sake. As we approach the resolution, we can see that the mood shifts in sync with our characters personality. It begins to fall into darkness and despair, as well as our protagonist does. We then reach the conclusion of a character’s act of desperation of a better life, but results in herself being in shambles. We can see that the mood and atmosphere shifts with the story and characters, and as we reach the conclusion, we see that the mood and atmosphere had change drastically.
The main characters of The Yellow Wallpaper reinforce the message because of how Stetson had experiences with depression, and with that experience, provided our main protagonist, Mary, with a realistic standpoint of what depression really is. We can see that Mary is the character of need and is obligated to do what she is tasked to do. This is due to her husband who enforces his opinions onto her, forcing her to be abandoned and chained down, only obeying to his commands. The message of gender equality is seen with the fact that that the story is heavily influenced on parochial culture of the 1880s and how there needs to be change within society. Jennie is introduced as the opposite of Mary, someone who is obedient, and capable, as well as not mentally sick like herself. Jennie is also there to showcase to Mary of who she should become, in which Mary rejects with doing activities that both the husband and Jennie do not approve of. The woman in the wallpaper represent herself, a neglected, broken woman who cannot recover from her illness since she cannot leave the wall in which she is held up in. Although Mary tries to help, she just sealed her own fate, by ripping the wallpaper down, she allowed for herself to become that neglected person, who cannot stand up to her husband on what he says. It shows how powerless women were at that time and that there should be change within the equality of both males and females.
Stylistic devices reinforce the main message because it details the story in a way that allows for readers to think. “At night in any kind of light, in twilight, candlelight, lamplight, and worst of all by moonlight, it becomes bars!” This stylistic device is a symbol of herself, and women during the nineteenth century. These women were sheltered in houses, usually by themselves, like bars in a jail cell. This symbol also represents the fact that women were oppressed and enslaved by the men during the 1800s due to the inequality of genders. “It slaps you in the face, knocks you down, and tramples upon you. It is like a bad dream.” This simile, and second person point of view indicates the fact that the wallpaper is torturing her and making her insane with each passing day. This builds up her shift of personality and is important later in the story. “The outside pattern is a florid arabesque, reminding one of a fungus. If you can imagine a toadstool in joints, an interminable string of toadstools, budding and sprouting in endless convolutions –why, that is something like it.” This metaphor is a direct comparison of the wallpaper with mushrooms. This metaphor indicates the appearance of the wallpaper, and its atrocious appearance of yellow. “Round and round and round – round and round and round – it makes me dizzy!” This repetition of the word “round” gives us a glimpse of how broken Mary is at this point of the story. Her insanity has taken over her and she thinks and talks different from the Mary we knew at the beginning of the story.
The story “The Yellow Wallpaper”, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, demonstrates a feminist perspective because it elaborates on the ideology of empowerment of women and how society needs change. The text reflects this through the idea of depression and anxiety and how women are mentally dying due to the inability of doing any tasks outside the house. The character Mary embodies the complex nature of a typical female wife, who has fallen quite ill. Her husband, a physician takes little note of her illness and shakes it off as “a slight hysterical tendency”. The neglection of such a destructive illness on a fragile frame of mind, causes her to rampage into madness near the end of the story. The mistreatment of women is shown as a significant stand point of gender inequality, and how this man driven world needs change. Women during the 1880s strive to gain equal status, and the only way of doing this is through the pen and paper. As seen with this short story, we can see that personal experiences of the authors play into the story heavily and create a realistic tale in which women are weak and incapable of doing much. Depression in this story, is implied to be a force applied to the females due to their husbands. We can see that application through this within the story with Mary believing “…that congenial work, with excitement and change, would do me good.” But is unable due to the power in which men hold upon society and on their wives. Near the end of the story, we can see that the depression becomes too much, that she becomes insane, and through disparity tries to “…To jump out of the window….”. This indicates the fact that women are unable to live their lives normally under heavy stress and anxiety from their lower status as women. The ethics of change in society, during the time, slowly become more coherent with each passing page of the short story. It shows that status inequality can affect people in ways more than one.
How Setting Plays a Significant Role in the Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
The Crucialness of Setting in The Yellow Wallpaper
Setting can be more than just the location in which a story takes place; setting can be essential to the plot or theme of a work. In Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper, the narrator is temporarily residing in a secluded mansion, isolated in an upper room alone where she is on a rest cure, for mental health issues, due to her husband’s orders. In The Yellow Wallpaper, the setting is vital to the story because the themes of gender and isolation/entrapment would not be able to be fully developed without taking place in its specific environment in the late 19th century.
One of the major themes in The Yellow Wallpaper is gender and the control men had over women in the 19th century. The setting is important in this aspect because the way women acted and were viewed in the 19th century is vastly different from how women behave today. In many instances, the narrator expresses that she thinks the rest cure her husband prescribed is not helping her, for example “I sometimes fancy that in my condition if I had less opposition and more society and stimulus — but John says the very worst thing I can do is to think about my condition, and I confess it always makes me feel bad” (Gilman 2), however, she follows her husband’s orders and feels bad for questioning him. This portrays the social reality of the late 19th century, and how she must do as she is told and remain under the control of her husband, who views her as weak. The husband also treats the narrator as if she were a child, calling her things like “blessed little goose” (Gilman 4), and keeping her locked away in the upstairs room and not allowing her to leave and visit others as seen when she states “ I tried to have a real earnest reasonable talk with him the other day, and tell him how I wish he would let me go and make a visit to Cousin Henry and Julia. But he said I wasn’t able to go, nor able to stand it after I got there…” (Gilman 7). She tries to express her desires to her husband and ask his permission, but he treats her as a child and tells her she is too weak and unstable to go and makes the decision for her. If this story had taken place at a different point in time, it would seem less realistic for the narrator to be completely under the control of her husband and to have him treat her as a child unable to decide what is good for her own mental health and lifestyle.
Entrapment/isolation is another major theme of Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper. The story starts with the narrator describing the mansion they are moving into while their home is renovated and describes it as being “quite alone, standing well back from the road, quite three miles from the village. It makes me think of English places that you read about, for there are hedges and walls and gates that lock…” (Gilman 3). The mansion being so far away from everything introduces the theme of isolation. The hedges, walls, and locks induce the feeling of being trapped and unable to see others. The narrator goes on to describe the room, with “windows that look all ways” but are barred (Gilman 3), presumably to keep her from being able to escape. She is able to see the world outside her room, but she is trapped and isolated from it, seeking solace only in her journal and in trying to decipher the pattern in the yellow wallpaper. She is both physically confined to the room and she is also confined mentally from stimulus and socialization. The barred windows can also add to the theme as a symbol that she is a prisoner entrapped inside the room, unable to do as she desires out in the world under the control of her husband.
The most important aspect of the setting in The Yellow Wallpaper is just that: the yellow wallpaper in the room the narrator is staying in. The majority of the text is the narrator describing the wallpaper and what she sees within it, the “hideous,” “unreliable,” and “infuriating” pattern (Gilman 9), the “ repellent, almost revolting” yellow color (Gilman 3), and the “woman stooping down and creeping about behind that pattern” (Gilman 8). Throughout the story, the narrator’s feelings towards the wallpaper change from simply disliking it to believing there is an actual woman trapped beneath it. This happens as she loses her mind as she is isolated from the world around her; the wallpaper is her only stimulus. The ugly, meaningless pattern and color of the wallpaper represent her life and her unhappiness with it. She tries to decipher the pattern and make sense of it, and can focus on nothing else. As she loses her sanity she starts to see the woman stuck behind it, the woman being herself, confined to the room and under the control of her husband, unable to live the life she wants to. When she finally completely derails into madness, she rips the wallpaper off, freeing and becoming the woman who, though completely insane, is free. Her husband faints, unable to control the situation and no longer having power over her (Gilman 16).
In conclusion, the setting in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper is crucial for the themes of the story to be fully disclosed and developed. The setting does more than just provide an environment for the events in the story to take place, it adds a second layer to the story beyond what is just stated. Without taking place in the 19th century in a secluded mansion with ugly wallpaper, the narrator’s reliance on her husband, her build up to insanity due to isolation, and the rest cure she is put on would not have made for the disturbing and insightful piece of literature it is.
The Yellow Wallpaper Vs. the Birth Mark
‘’The Yellow Paper’’ and ‘’The Birth Mark’’
The stories ‘’Birth Mark’’ and ‘’Yellow Wallpaper’’ are very similar. In the story ‘’Birth Mark’’ the husband is a scientist who is obsessed with perfection. Most of his science projects have high expectations from him but none of them are successful. Being a man who likes things perfect and having a wife like Georgiana, Aylmer doesn’t like the mark on her face. He forces her to take it off by constantly asking her if she wanted to take it off. Throughout the story the husband has more power than his wife and at the end of the story she died. ‘’Yellow Wallpaper’’ is very similar story, because the husband has the power over his wife as well. The wife is being under husband’s control. He forbids her from writing and just wants her to rest and do nothing. She’s also forced to live in the room that she didn’t pick herself. It’s normal that a person got crazy when she’s put in that situation. Both husbands were trying to help their wives but ended up making it worse by trying to prove that they can heal them their selves. The problem was the control over women.
Both stories make it seem that the husbands are in control of their wives. In Hawthorne’s story, the wife is held in a mental prison, because she can’t escape the fact that her husband will not accept her the way she is by wanting to remove the mark off her face. I think that the husband Aylmer, being a scientist, also wanted to prove himself and his wife that he could remove the mark using science. You shouldn’t be experimenting on your wife by any means. ‘’Yellow Paper’’ is not quite the same. The wife is trapped in a ‘’prison’’, which is the room that she was put in. The mental prison for her would be the fact that the husband doesn’t want to let her write or stay in the house that she likes. I think that the reason why in both of these stories men have more power over women is because in that time period when authors wrote them, women didn’t have so much power and control in the family. Back in the day women didn’t have as much respect as they do now. It was a time when men thought of themselves as a higher class, that’s why there wasn’t a lot of women doctors or scientists. In both of the stories the men feel like they should have more power by telling their women what to do. Trying to help them and proving themselves that they are able to help their women, just made it worse.
In the story ‘’Yellow Wallpaper’’ the narration analyzes the life of a modern woman in society. The narrator shows that the men have privileges over women in the society. People picture most of the women in the kitchen and being a housewife. In the society it’s harder for women, because people don’t care what education they have. The point is that men within the society will not give women a listening ear. That is what’s happening in this story, because she doesn’t have the power to make her own decisions. She’s been placed in a room that she doesn’t want to stay at and she can’t do what she wants to do. In modern day society it’s completely different. Women are highly respected and they can make decisions in politics and become doctors. Most of the time modern society treats women and men equally. Women have outdone men in many fields. They also have good jobs and participating in politics as well. There are several female presidents in the world. The president of my country is a female and discrimination of women in Europe isn’t as big as it used to be back in time when these two stories were written.
The stories are different; in the ‘’Yellow Wallpaper’’ the wife is completely under husbands control. She is forced to stay at the room and her family doesn’t let her do what she enjoys doing. She is put in the situation that most of the ladies wouldn’t feel comfortable in even back in the day. She’s more in a physical control, and her husband is a physician so he’s trying to help her by making decisions for her. He doesn’t want to admit the fact that she has mental problems and he’s a doctor. ‘’Birth Mark’’ is a little bit different, because the scientist let’s the wife make a decision but the wife feels pushed by him and she gets sad because the husband doesn’t accept her the way she is. It’s a tough situation for her, because she loves him and wants to be perfect for him. He supposed to be supportive and love the wife without pressuring her and trying to prove what he can do as a scientist. Unfortunately both men in both stories fail to succeed at helping their wives. Both of the stories have a bad ending.
In conclusion, these stories are similar and different at the same time. ‘’The Yellow Wallpaper’’ and ‘’The Birth Mark’’ both have husbands who are trying to help their wives by pretty much controlling them and telling them what they should do and what they shouldn’t do. I find that very disturbing, because in a modern world women are highly respected by men or at least that’s how most males are being taught by their parents to treat women. Back in the day it was normalized for men to discriminate women by thinking that women are a lower class people, and do not have the same rights as men do. In both of these stories both husbands have good careers, one of them is a physician, the other is a scientist. Authors don’t tell the careers of their wives. It was easy to compare these two stories since they’re so similar and have only have very few differences.
Descent into Madness in the Yellow Wallpaper and I Felt a Funeral in My Brain
A theme of the descent into madness is developed both in Emily Dickenson’s “I Felt a Funeral in my Brain” and in Charlotte Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper. Each story gradually depicts progressing insanity of its main character; which is faster in “I Felt a Funeral in my Brain. In “The Yellow Wallpaper,” the idea of how the lack of human interaction and change in environment can and will lead to a mental breakdown and the loss of yourself, as depicted when the woman in the wallpaper controlled the narrator’s physical and mental doings. “The Yellow Wallpaper” and “I Felt a Funeral in my Brain” are similar because they both depict a descent into madness.
The Yellow Wallpaper
In “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Gilman, the Narrator is suffering from stress and was given bed rest as treatment. Throughout the story, the main characters journal entries became more and more elusive and incomprehensible with ramblings about the yellow wallpaper that she hated so much. From the beginning, she was writing full paragraphs and expressing her emotions, especially when she said “A colonial mansion, a hereditary estate, I would say a haunted house, and reach the height of romantic felicity–but that would be asking too much of fate!” This statement is taken from the very beginning of the story, but later on she becomes insane as seen when she said “‘I’ve got out at last,’ said I, ‘in spite of you and Jane. And I’ve pulled off most of the paper, so you can’t put me back!’ Now why should that man have fainted? But he did, and right across my path by the wall, so that I had to creep over him every time!”
I Felt a Funeral in my Brain
This descent into madness is also portrayed in “I Felt a Funeral in my Brain” by Emily Dickinson. A funeral marks the passage from one state to another (life to death), a parallel to the speaker’s passing from one stage to another (sanity to insanity). However, the poet is not observing the funeral but is feeling it. She is both observer of the funeral and participant, indicating that the Self is divided. By the end of the poem, the Self will have shattered into pieces or chaos. The mourners “treading” indicates a pressure that is pushing her down. The speaker has a momentary impression that reason ‘sense’ is escaping or being lost. The pressure of the treading is reasserted with the repetition, ‘beating, beating.’ This time her mind, the source of reasoning, goes ‘numb,’ a further deterioration in her condition. The last two lines of stanza four assess her condition; she sees herself as ‘wrecked, solitary.’ Her descent into irrationality separates her from other human beings, making her a member of ‘some strange race.’ Her alienation and inability to communicate are indicated by her being enveloped by silence. In the last stanza, Dicksinson uses the metaphor of standing on a plank or board over a precipice, to describe the speaker’s descent into irrationality. In other words, her hold on rationality was insecure, just as standing on a plan would feel insecure. She falls past ‘worlds,’ which may stand for her past; in any case, she is losing her connections to reality. Her descent is described as ‘plunges,’ suggesting the speed and force of her fall into psychological chaos, shown by the phrase ‘got through knowing’. The last word of the poem, ‘then–,’ does not finish or end her experience but leaves opens the door for the nightmare-horror of madness.
In conclusion, “The Yellow Wallpaper” and “I Felt a Funeral in my Brain” are similar because they both depict a descent into madness. The theme of the descent into madness is developed both in Emily Dickenson’s “I Felt a Funeral in my Brain” and in Charlotte Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper. Each story gradually depicts progressing insanity of its main character; which is faster in “I Felt a Funeral in my Brain. In “The Yellow Wallpaper,” the idea of how the lack of human interaction and change in environment can and will lead to a mental breakdown and the loss of yourself, as depicted when the woman in the wallpaper controlled the narrator’s physical and mental doings.
The Elements of Gothic Fiction in the Yellow Wallpaper and a Rose for Emily
Gothic fiction is a genre whose “dominant mood is terror and suspense” and whose characters include an “ingenuous hero or heroine surrounded by mysterious or threatening individuals” (Kennedy 72). Greg Johnson’s article “Gilman’s Gothic Allegory: Rage and Redemption in “The Yellow Wallpaper”, outlines a number of gothic elements in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story that could also be found in William Faulkner’s short story “A Rose for Emily.” Both literary works use specific gothic elements such as a distraught heroine, repressive male antagonist and forbidden desires that are important to connect with the reader and allow them to feel the storyline.
A Distraught Heroine
A distraught heroine is defined by Johnson as someone who is subjected to confinement that led her to rebellion since she refuses a life of “unhappy, silent acceptance” choosing “madness over repression” (Johnson 3). In his article Johnson states that Gilman’s heroine’s experience should not be view as a “final catastrophe but as a terrifying, necessary stage in her progress toward self-identity and personal achievement” (Johnson 4). At first, the yellow wallpaper represents her view of herself, atypical and ugly, in her role as wife and mother “repellant, almost revolting; a smouldering unclean yellow, strangely faded by the slow-turning sunlight” (Gilman 649). Nonetheless, by the end the narrator believes she has freed herself “I’ve got out at last,’ said I, ‘in spite of you and Jane. And I’ve pulled off most of the paper, so you can’t put me back!’ (Gilman 656). In William Faulkner’s short story “A Rose for Emily” some of the passages described through the story contribute to the reader’s compassion and sympathy towards Emily’s character “We remembered all the young men her father had driven away, and we knew that with nothing left, she would have to cling to that which had robbed her, as people will” (Faulkner 173). Emily had aspirations to find love and create a family but her father, who is an oppressive and strict figure, prevents her from growing as a woman. At thirty she is still single and later her father’s death further isolates her. The town is also guilty of her downfall since their prejudices and traditions put pressure on her “Miss Emily had been a tradition, a duty, and a care; a sort of hereditary obligation upon the town” (Faulkner 167-168). Even though some of her actions are repulsed, since it’s discovered that she killed Homer Barron, her boyfriend, we can understand her motivation and the reasons why she took such drastic actions accepting “madness over repression” (Johnson 3) which fits in a profile of a gothic heroine.
Powerfully Repressive Male Antagonist
Another element in gothic fiction is the presence of a “powerfully repressive male antagonist” (Johnson 3). Johnson describes that in “The Yellow Wallpaper,” John is a “physician of high standing,” and a figure of dominance in every sense and represses the “hysterical tendency of women” (Johnson 5). Throughout the story, it is evident that the narrator is over ruled by her husband who believes that isolation is the best cure for her post-partum depression. John shows disrespect towards his wife, which made her believed that she is not on an equal level with him “John laughs at me, of course, but one expects that in marriage” (Gilman 647). It’s also noticeable that she can’t question his methods regarding her own well-being. “I sometimes fancy that in my condition if I had less opposition and more society and stimulus–but John says the very worst thing I can do is to think about my condition, and I confess it always makes me feel bad” (Gilman 648). Similarly, in Faulkner’s short story Emily struggles under the control of a dominating father who prevents his daughter from marrying. He rejects all her potential suitors since “None of the young men were quite good enough for Miss Emily and such” (Faulkner 172). Emily, therefore, is alone because of her father’s strict standards for a potential husband. His father’s death left her in denial and she agreed to release his body for burial after a lot of pressure, which highlights her isolation and solitude since her father was his influence on her ideas and actions. In both stories, the distraught heroines struggle with how to gain their independence back since a male figure appears to be holding them back.
Forbidden desire is found in Gilman’s short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” and “A Rose for Emily” By William Faulkner. In both stories, the main character’s desires are oppressed.
In the “The Yellow Wallpaper,” the narrator is caught between the realistic world of her husband and her own imaginative one, so she attempts to save herself through writing to discover herself. However, John has given instructions that she shouldn’t tell stories or use her imagination because it might lead to a worse mental condition. But, the narrator thinks that writing her ideas would make her feel better. “I think sometimes that if I were only well enough to write a little it would relieve the press of ideas and rest me” (Gilman 649). Comparably in “A Rose of Emily,” the main character is torn between the rigorous traditional principles of the patriarchy and what she really wants, Emily never has a chance to control her own life, falling victim to her own repressed desires of love and companionship.
Gilman and Faulkner works have common elements found in gothic fiction such as a distraught heroine, repressive male antagonist and forbidden desire. A distraught heroine could be seen in both stories since each woman is subjected to confinement that led them to rebellion. In “The Yellow Wallpaper,” the narrator went through a process of self-identity allowing to free herself. Emily from “A Rose for Emily” she had to accept madness over repression since she had to take drastic actions. Male dominance is something that is showed in both stories, because the main characters, at some point, feel they can’t be complete without a dominant male role in their life or that it was forced upon them. However, they both find a way out of this over powering rule. Forbidden desire is another important element since both women struggle with how to gain their independence back, in Charlotte Perkin’s story the narrator found that through writing she could feel better however she is instructed that she shouldn’t tell stories or use her imagination. William Faulkner shows us in his story that Emily’s desire of finding love are oppressed by his father which led her to a life of solitude. Both stories showed multiple elements of gothic fiction which help the reader have a better understanding of the story line.
House of Horror: the Poisonous Power of Charlotte Perkins
“The Yellow Wallpaper’ by Charlotte Perkins Gilman gains its most critical attention for symbolism and gender roles merely for woman in the 1900’s. The focus on distractions that becomes obsessions can show how a woman innermost realm of mind, will, and emotion, can be capped down by society ways of gender roles causing detrimental situations even till this day. “The Yellow Wallpaper” presented numerous of examples of gender en-quality, conformity and lack of ownership throughout the passage. Which lead two of the characters in a state of mental illness, which was frowned upon and wasn’t properly treated in the 1900’s.
The story followed a married woman during the 1900’s who mental illness gets the best of her. As much of her days were spent being cared for by her husband it often left her alone in a room where life came from a wallpaper. As the wallpaper starts to take life of its own, you’ll begin to see the woman character has lost its life as if the wallpaper was trading places with her within the story. In her journal, the woman writes: ‘John does not know how much I really suffer. He knows there is no reason to suffer, and that satisfies him.’ It appears it never occurs to her husband john how dehumanizing the situation can be, but only how much the situation can be better if you just let it, morally blaming it on the woman perspective and her view of life. Timely the woman begins to get even more discouraged, by doing anything that is not her husband’s decision first even for the things that she deeply cares about.
The idea of conformity from the woman projects that women aren’t superior to men. Which leads to her consciously blaming herself for not being able to cope to the wallpaper that her husband deemed ok. Also, with presenting solutions to her husband that might could have helped the situation, once reiterated her husband didn’t see them fit. Not being heard and respected demonstrates the struggle for women in the 1900’s .Feelings of being trapped by your love ones confines the women ,even almost like a child .Being secondary to the men of the household was the normality and was seen as natural .By refusing to accept the woman mind as independent and an individual factor her dear husband aggravates the situation more, confiding her to an outbreak and outburst of mental illness.
As the story goes on the women illness takes even more turns rapidly. Becoming a product of her own environment, and no longer being herself mentally. Constant isolation and depression drives her to complete insanity, and eventually into believing she and the so-called wallpaper have now traded places. In her journal the woman writes: “I’ve got out at last, despite you and Jane! And I’ve pulled off most of the paper, so you can’t put me back!’. It would lead you to believe the old imprisoned woman is now on the outside looking in, with complete victory for “The yellow paper”. Yet it wasn’t the woman would now have to creep over her husband who has now seen that the woman has completely gone mad. Woman of ambition in the 1900’s challenges the very core of the story. While woman was seen vulnerable and expressed confidence that contradicts what the norm would be the for female role would put them at risk for mental illness. When actuality the woman perspective was never heard, her thoughts, her ideas were being misconstrued and her intellect would never match the men in society.
The freedom that was given at the end was a fight for all women. Believing that her husband despite trying to believe that the husband had her best interest at hand. The husband was the only one who asked her to remain in the room from her baby and from friends and family. That alone creates ambition for the woman break of freedom. The woman wanted free thoughts, being able to express herself and be creative. In the end both the women and her husband both lose in the end because they are trapped in fixed gender roles. Without limitations to society standards or her husband choking love. Even the woman not gaining freedom in a normal way, it was still enough freedom just for the moment.
In conclusion, ‘The Yellow paper” depicted society norm at a time where it made the woman seem crazy. Her surroundings and struggle for freedom was causing her all these problems after all. As we observe fixed gender roles through the easy, we can clearly be shown the time and era for women. Society oppressive nature crippled mental illness for women causing lack of self-belief, ownership and conformity. Women where underappreciated, not allowed to have voice, isolated and dehumanized. Taking only simple steps of true love from the husband. Perhaps could have saved the woman from mental illness. We must remember mental illness shouldn’t play no roles when it comes to gender, but as you can see you have a long way to go before women of the 1900’s could make situations better for themselves.
The Yellow Wallpaper: Feministische Analyse
Marley 1 Micaiah Marley Ms. Fisher Honors College Composition 25 January 2018 Feminist Rights: “The Yellow Wallpaper” and “An Obstacle” In Charlotte Perkins Gilman short texts “The Yellow Wallpaper” and “An Obstacle”, there is prejudice against women. Throughout these stories, two women are struggling to get past the men who are being prejudice against them, and both of the women are carrying a heavy load that they are forced to face. In “The Yellow Wallpaper”, the speaker has partum-depression following the birth of her child. Her husband John, who is her physician, belittles her illness and treats her almost as if she is a child. John gives her no treatment as he believes it will not help her so he does not let her work or write. As time goes by, the narrator gains interest in the wallpaper, and she the becomes possessive and secretive, hiding the fact she has deep feelings about it. The yellow wallpaper resembles a jail-cell and that is why the narrator feels connected to it because she feels trapped. In the other story “An Obstacle”, the speaker of the poem climbs a mountain to reach her destination in which she gets stopped by a man that does not want her to pass.
Both of these short stories share the same message: Men believe that women are weak but they can succeed just as much as men can. As the stories begin to climax, the narrators end up standing up to the prejudice men. While men seem to get in the way of women’s rights, the main characters have to overcome their fears and struggles to meet their end goal. In the beginning,men who were prejudice stood in the way of women being able to move forward and achieve their goals. As the speaker starts walking through the memories of her past Marley 2 she states, “I was climbing up a mountain-path; With many things to do, Important business of my own, And other people’s too, When I ran against a Prejudice; That quite cut off the view”. Since the man sees her as a women, he blocks her from moving forward because he does not want her more successful than him.
Climbing the mountain-path resembles the speakers success, and the man does not want the woman to have anymore power than she already does. The woman explains how her husband is strong part of her post-depression to which she announces, “John is a physician. John wants her to stay depressed because, if she stays in that state of mind she remains weak and follows his commands. The men treat women as they are children and cannot get things done unless they are helped. Since women of Gilman’s time were seen as weak, men would over/power them and get in their way. Society believed that women are supposed to stay housewives and not be able to go out and achieve their goals. Men are not letting women work and allowing them to be successful because women are seen as weak. In “An Obstacle”, this women gets belittled by her prejudice thoughts she explains, “My work was such as could not wait, My path quite clearly showed, My strength and time were limited, I carried quite a load”. She had carried all the stress she had in life and felt like it was something she could not ignore. Her husband’s refuses to let her work and this is expressed in lines twelve through fourteen when she says, “So I take phosphates or phosphites — whichever it is, and tonics, and journeys, and air, and exercise, and am absolutely forbidden to “work” until I am well again. Personally, I disagree with their ideas. Personally, I believe that congenial work, with excitement and change, would do me good”. She disagrees with her husband when Marley 3 he believes that she should not do anything and should be solely dependent on him. Here, women did want to go and work big jobs but men were against the idea of letting them work since they were seen as “weak”. The man who did not want the speaker to pass was being prejudice over the fact that seeing a women being more successful than him could not work.
Also in “The Yellow Wallpaper”, John the speakers husband, told her she could not work due to her partum-depression. She felt that if she works she would feel better but John disagreed making her feel more closed out in the real world. The speaker is forced to face a man that is prejudice when it becomes unavoidable. The women tries to plead with the man to move ” So I spoke to him politely, For he was huge and high, And begged that he would move a bit; And let me travel by”. Even as she asked him to move politely, he still was not willing to move for her. The women want to go see her family members, but John is against it ” Dear John! He loves me very dearly, and hates to have me sick. I tried to have a real earnest reasonable talk with him the other day, and tell him how I wish he would let me go and make a visit to Cousin Henry and Julia”. He restricted her from being able to see her family and even her friends, no matter how hard she had cried and begged.The speaker tried so many times to talk things out nicely with the men but they ignore them. The women are getting slowly fed up in how they are being treated and how the men are not letting them move forward, so they finally take things up in there own hands. Finally the woman are able to surpass the the prejudice man. The women had an idea and she finally decided to move past him, “I approached that awful incubus with an absent minded air- And I walked directly through him as if he wasn’t there!”. As she begged and pleaded to get pass him, she finally moves by him without his notice and becomes more successful than Marley 4 she was.
The women finally had enough so she decided to pull off the wallpaper herself, “I’ve got out at last”. Said I, “in spite of you and Jane. And pulled off most of the paper, so you can’t put me back!”. She was finally able to pull back all the yellow wallpaper showing that she can do what she wants to do without John’s permission. The yellow wallpaper symbolizes the pattern of oppression that women in that society followed. Like the pattern, its continuous, it makes hardly no sense. The continuity of the all of this follows the set pattern of sexism. Finally, the speaker had enough of how they were getting treated so they decided to push past the prejudice men on their own making them more happier in the end. While men seems to get in the way of women’s rights, the main characters have to overcome their fears and struggles to meet their end goal. Ultimately, Gilmen’s symbols to show how women are not weak but can do anything a man can do. While the men could easily have been a negative symbol, it is overpowerment that allows the narrators to achieve their end goals. Throughout the short stories, the immerse strong will within the narrators and the symbols provide a feminist outlook for women to be more empowered.
Character of the Story Yellow Wallpaper
Charlotte Perkins Stetson is recognized as one of the important figures in the social reform movement of the late 1800s to early 1920s. Pieces of her life experiences are woven into the plot of her most recognized fictional short story, “The Yellow Wallpaper”. Stetson’s short story, “The Yellow Wallpaper” demonstrates her distrust in the patriarchal dominance hierarchy that was common in her time, and deals with the theme of dealing with a mental illness.
Stetson created a character that is also the main narrator and they cope with daily stress by writing down their thoughts in a journal, hidden from the prying eyes of John, their husband and husband’s sister Jennie. As a reader we do not know if the narrator is aware we are able to see the contents of the journal. In the plot exposition Stetson’s main character poses the question of what to do when two of the people that she holds close to her heart downplay the seriousness of her condition. Her husband and her brother are both physicians of high standing and they told not only her, but also her friends and family that she has temporary nervous depression. They both claim that her condition is a “slight hysterical tendency” meaning it’s a trivial matter and not one of importance. Our main character feels this is a serious understatement and disagrees with them. The plot of the story revolves around the narrator’s interactions with her husband and the sister that is absolutely loyal to him. This is an example of the classic patriarchy structure that dominated the 1800s and 1900s and is what Stetson fought against as a women’s rights activist before writing this story. The husband is at the top of the hierarchy which is why his sister, the only other female character in the story, follows his direction to the letter. Her husband dictates which room in the mansion she sleeps in, when and what medication to take, and how often the narrator sleeps. The narrator’s refusal to accept the patriarchal structure set in place is similar to Stetson’s real views on men and the fact that Stetson attributed the ills of the world to the dominance of men(Britannica). It is easy to see the correlation between the traits assigned to the male characters and specific plot elements in Stetson’s fictional story, and her real world views of men.
At the rising action point of the plot, the narrator gets into an argument with her husband and starts crying. It is after this moment that the narrator starts writing about seeing a figure in the Yellow Wallpaper that adorns their room. It is safe to assume that the argument affected the narrator deeply, deep enough that they started hallucinating. The diction of the narrator also changes after the argument. It takes on a more serious and dark tone. The narrator gives off the impression that they are scribbling down their thoughts into the journal while looking over their shoulder. The scribbles are frantic and the narrator admits to cultivating deceitful habits in the aftermath of the argument such as pretending to be sleeping when her husband or husband’s sister is near her. The climax of the plot comes when the narrator doesn’t finish writing out her thoughts in the journal because “it does not do to trust people too much.” The narrator is no longer trusting her own journal entries, she is no longer trusting herself. This is a troubling indicator of the decline of their mental health. There is reasonable evidence that points to the narrator’s descent into madness starting with the hallucinations and no longer trusting the journal.
Stetson’s narrator descends further into madness when she stops talking about the figure in the yellow wallpaper in the third person, “I see her in that long shaded lane, creeping up and down.” The narrator replaces the pronoun “her” with “I” and essentially becomes the woman in the yellow wallpaper. The narrator is unable to separate the actions of the woman stuck in the yellow wallpaper from her own and instead molds them together. At one point the narrator notices that the bedstead has teeth marks and blames it non existent children, a few lines later the narrator writes “I got so angry I bit off a little piece at one corner – but it hurt my teeth.” Furthermore, another instance of the narrator confusing reality and descending further into madness is when she writes about successfully hiding a rope from her husband’s sister somewhere in the room and how they intend to tie up the woman hiding in the yellow wallpaper if it tries to escape. A few lines later the narrator writes “I am securely fastened now by my well-hidden rope…I suppose I shall have to get back behind the pattern when it comes night…It is so pleasant to be out in this great room and creep around as I please!” The narrator has completely stopped observing the woman in the yellow wallpaper and now exclusively writes from the perspective of the woman they have hallucinated into existence.
The final act of insanity done by the narrator is when they lock out the husband from the room. The husband eventually makes his way into the room to find the narrator creeping around the room, stuck to the wall. The narrator tells the husband, “I’ve got out at last…and I’ve pulled off most of the paper, so you can’t put me back!” The husband promptly faints as he at last realizes the extent of the narrator’s mental illness. The deterioration of the narrator’s mental state could have been stopped before it reached this point if it wasn’t for the arrogance of her husband. The husband was distracted by their ego and high position in the hierarchy and ignored every single call for help by the narrator. If the husband hadn’t held themselves up on a pedestal and instead had placed themselves on the same level as a woman, it is possible that they would have been able to keep the narrator’s mind intact.
Taking a step back from the atrocities wrecked upon the mind of the narrator, one could laugh at the situation. It is very ironic that Stetson portrayed man as the tyrant and villain in her short story. It is ironic because Stetson is one of the first public feminists in U.S history(Britannica). Stetson started the first wave of feminism in America. Every single one of her non fiction works, save her autobiography, heavily criticized man, especially her book Does a man support his wife? To conclude, the short story titled The Yellow Wall Paper is a fictional story that highlights the faults hidden in a patriarchy and exaggerates the effects they can have on women by utterly destroying the mind of the main character who is a woman.