Female Hysteria In The Yellow Wallpaper By Charlotte Perkins Gilman

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Female hysteria was a common disease in Western Europe for hundreds of years. The disease is a representation of physical and psychological symptoms that shift. It originally was thought of as a disease in specifically women that was brought on by the migration of the uterus, but it was quickly discovered that the Uterus did not “migrate.” Physicians and other educated men concluded that hysteria was a cover-up for whatever was bothering their female patients. The diagnosis of hysteria was seen in both men and women, but mainly women, and was understood in many ways under the research of S. Weir Mitchell, other prominent nineteenth-century doctors, and in “The Yellow Wallpaper” written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.
Silas Weir Mitchell was an
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In 1887 Gilman decided to go see specialist Silas Weir Mitchell, hoping to cure her continuous nervous breakdowns. Mitchell recommended the “rest cure” that consisted of her lying in bed and engaging in only two hours of activity a day. Gilman said that after three months, she was, “near the borderline of utter mental ruin” (csivc.csi.cuny.edu). Her story “The Yellow Wallpaper” written in 1891, was published by the Feminist Press in 1992 and goes on to explain these encounters and to educate others on the chaos the “rest cure” caused. Gilman wrote in her story, “I am getting angry enough to do something desperate. To jump out of the window would be admirable exercise, but the bars are too strong to even try” (Gilman, 1891). Gilman thought of things she never would have done in a normal state of mind. It is clear that Gilman went through a series of psychological stages during her story including, postpartum depression when she is locked away, obsessive compulsion disorder with the “Yellow Wallpaper,” and then goes into a state of happiness at the end once she has torn down the wallpaper symbolizing her freedom. Gilman’s story accurately depicts the mental disorders the women experienced while partaking in the “rest cure.” Gilman spoke out fiercely against Mitchell’s rest cure because she was upset that the rest cure “broke the patients will.” …show more content…
Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote “The Yellow Wallpaper” not to, “Drive people crazy, but to save people from being driven crazy, and it worked” (Gilman, 1891). Many great specialists had altered their treatments after reading “The Yellow Wallpaper” because it had opened their eyes too much more. Gilman sent a copy of her story to her specialist Silas Weir Mitchell and he refused to acknowledge it. Hysteria was a cover-up for whatever was bothering the female population. Since the diagnosis is left undetermined, the myth of it being the migration of the uterus can be crossed off and joked about for many years to come. Tennessee Williams once said, “I have found it easier to identify with the characters that verge upon hysteria, who were frightened of life, who were desperate to reach out to another person. But these seemingly fragile people are the strong people really”(Williams) because vulnerability determines the amount of strength a human

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