The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman Literature Analysis Essay
The Yellow Wallpaper written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is a short story, which is related to American feminist literature. The author draws her readers’ attention to the woman’s diary and gives them an opportunity to trace back the stages of a woman’s mental breakdown.
Despite the fact that the story seems to be rather ambiguous, one is to keep in mind the protagonist’s detailed descriptions, but not symbolical meaning of “the female mind, which is supposed to be housed” (Kevanyu par. 5). So, a version written below is represented by the protagonist’s husband – John, who is a physician and explains the events his wife experiences from his point of view. Thus, let me draw your attention to John’s diary.
It seems that my wife’s mental health has become worse. She is perfectly sure that her hysterical character and panic attacks can be regarded as pathology and I cannot prove the contrary of her statements. I tried to explain her that she got tired with her own thoughts and her melancholic mood is not a disease, but one of the peculiarities of her temperament and worldview.
I am sure that she is just bored and must distract her mind from her cares; although I do not know how to arouse her interest in some things: she wants nothing. Physically she is fine and there are no reasons to worry about; however, her mental state makes me anxious. She yields to no persuasions, and does not want to communicate with people around. If she continues to assure herself that she is seriously ill, she will probably undergo a course of medical treatment for a severe depression.
Some days have passed and the situation is still the same. To be honest, I am alarmed by my wife’s irrational thoughts and ideas. I do my best to show her my love and respect, but her reaction to my friendly attitude scares me. My wife’s brother is also a physician and he tells her the same.
He tries to assure her that she is fine, but she does not believe any of us. The most frightening thing, however, I do not want to believe in, is that I take notice of some strange symptoms concerning my wife’s behavior. For instance, she is deeply concerned about the house we live in. I remember the times, when we bought the house. She was so happy! She liked our beautiful garden and spent there all the time.
She compared the house with many separate little houses, which are placed on the territory of England and we talked about strange people…I do not know what happened, but now my wife is afraid of the rooms.
She assures me that some strange creatures have settled down in our house and she feels they keep their eyes on her. Moreover, yesterday a draught opened a window, and my wife said she saw a ghost. I do not know what to do. She takes some medicine to cure her nervous condition; maybe her visual hallucinations are considered to be drugs side effect?
My wife does not want to talk. It seems she avoids conversations on her health and tries to behave normally; although I see that she hardly controls her emotions. She smiles at me, but her eyes are sad. Every day my wife goes upstairs and gazes on the wallpaper. A few minutes later she starts to look over her shoulders and just repeats “I never saw a worse paper in my life” (Gilman 1).
When I suddenly come home, she jumps to her feet and starts to dash around the room. I know she tries to hide her diary, because I do not allow her to write. When she writes, the situation with her mental health becomes worsen. In my opinion the fact that she is lost in thought just aggravates her mental condition.
That is why I do not want her to write. When my cases are serious, I cannot spend much time with my wife; although I do miss her. I know that she suffers, but I really do not understand the reasons. I take care of her and try to entertain her all the time. Sometimes I think I can go out of my mind, if my wife does not stop to analyze symbolical meaning of the yellow wallpaper. She discusses the color of the paper for a week now. I do not know what to do.
Good news! My wife seems to feel better. She agrees with me that it is her imaginative power, which causes a variety of her fears. Finally, my attempts to assure her that her worldview leads to nervous weakness have been crowned with success.
I suppose that a streak of bad luck follows me all the time. My earliest assumptions seem to be wrong. A few days ago, I asked my sister to come to my wife and talk to her. I just wanted to draw my wife’s attention away from her reasoning on the house. When I asked my sister about the meeting, she told me that my wife’s behavior was unnatural.
So, when my sister came, my wife was pale and tried to hide her diary again. I cannot understand whether she deceives me or no. Moreover, the situation with the yellow wallpaper has been totally changed. My wife spends hours gazing on the walls; however, it seems she likes the interior! Thus, she refuses to repaper the room… I am confused. My wife cries most of the time and explains nothing. She is awfully lazy and for the most part keeps silence.
Yesterday, my wife asked me to take her away from the house. She did not explain the reasons of her desire and I decided not to ask about them. I think that my wife’s mental health can be aggravated with leaving; while staying at home can affect her health in a positive way.
To my mind, my wife should rest. I do not know what is going on, but I started to worry about my own mental state. This morning I went upstairs and started to gaze on the yellow wallpaper. I probably wanted to see something, which could help me understand what my wife saw…but I noticed nothing unusual: the yellow wallpaper caused no symbolical interpretations in my mind.
I cannot state for sure, but it seems I have noticed some positive changes in my wife’s character. I suppose she is getting better. She behaves normally and she is not obsessed with the yellow wallpaper anymore.
This evening I could not open the door. I asked my wife to let me in, but she refused and told me where the key could be found. I asked her what was wrong, and she just answered: “I’ve pulled off most of the paper, so you can’t put me back” (Gilman 8). The yellow wallpaper – there is nothing I understand.
Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. The Yellow Wallpaper, Alexandria, VA: Orchises Press, 1990. Print.
Kevanyu, Nash. Wallpaper as the Apotheosis of Womanhood? 1997.
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