Contributing Factors for the Degradation in Mental Illness from "The Yellow Wallpaper" and "Bartleby the Scrivenor"

899 Words Nov 18th, 2011 4 Pages
Melissa Mills
October 5, 2011
Intro to Lit. MW 3:00

Contributing Factors for the Degradation in Mental Illness of the
Nameless Narrator and Bartleby
Until the late 1800’s when psychoanalysis was introduced, there was little to no distinction between classifications of mental illness. The female protagonist in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” and Bartleby of Herman Melville’s “Bartleby the Scrivenor” are both characters that seem to suffer from depression. Gilman’s narrator suffers from a ‘temporary nervous depression—a slight hysterical tendency’ that regresses into insanity and irrational behavior as Bartley is unmotivated, passive resistant and reticent. The regressing mental illnesses of the
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Despite good intentions, both characters are enabled to decline in mental health and become more mentally ill as shown in “The Yellow Wallpaper” when John enables the narrator to regress by continuing treatment despite his wife’s concerns for her mental health, contrasting, Bartleby who is enabled by his boss to continue inaction at work, to live at the office to the point where the boss relocates his office, and ultimately confinement for indecision, followed by intentional death by starving. John gives the narrator in Gilman’s story, an opportunity to express concern to her husband/physician, yet by his insensitive reaction to not listen and even persuade her to not think again about leaving for another 3 weeks, he enables her to get worse and to hide her true state of mind from him. Bartleby, in contrast, is enabled by his own boss who when he refuses to work but keeps his job, lives in and outside of the office as a nomad and his boss simply moves the chambers to avoid the problem; all enabling him to continue to get worse. Therefore, the enabling of deteriorating mental health contributes to the mental illness in the potential to cause more damage even to the already fragile mental states of Gilman’s and Melville’s characters. Consequently, the characters in these two stories are more similar in the experience of oppression, isolation and enabling from those in in the power of authority, possibly contributing to the

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