The Yellow Wall-Paper By Charlotte Perkins Gilman

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Written in 1892 by Charlotte Perkins Gillman, “The Yellow Wall-paper” is an important piece in the naturalist movement, illustrating the difficulty of being a mentally ill woman in the late 19th and early 20th century. The novella portrays a young woman suffering from postpartum depression who is slowly loosing her sanity. As was custom at the time, the narrator was confined to a room to rest and essentially wait out her depression. Even though this method was highly ineffective, the women it was being used on had no say in the matter because they were deemed mentally ill. This piece was written to illustrate how detrimental this form of treatment was to those who had to suffer through it. In order to do so, Gillman chose to symbolically express …show more content…
The wall-paper in this story serves as a visualization of her mental state, and as her sanity is slowly ripped away, so is the paper. In her first writing, she describes the color of the paper as ‘unclean’ and ‘sickly’, both words that were commonly used to describe mentally ill patients at the time. As the narrative continues, the woman starts to see a dark figure behind the paper. She states “I can see a strange, provoking, formless sort of figure, that seems to skulk about behind that silly and conspicuous front design” (Gillman 795). The way the narrator speaks of the being behind the paper greatly shows how she feels about herself. If you assume the wall-paper is a symbol for her sanity, you are left to conclude that the woman behind the paper is the narrator, trying to break free of the restraints placed on her by those who believed they knew best. The “silly and conspicuous…design” (Gilman 795) is a representation of how she, as a woman, is expected to behave, while all she actually wants to do is to escape both the metaphorical constraints of society and the physical constraints of the room she has been confined …show more content…
The wall-paper is down, and the figure has become one with the narrator. She is completely convinced that she came from behind the wall-paper and that she is now free. In reality she has lost every last bit of sanity left in her mind and is embracing the identity of the figure that she has created. Through the parallels between the wall-paper and her diminishing mental stability, Gillman was able to subtly demonstrate the atrocious results of locking a mentally unstable person away in the hopes that they will get better after bedrest. The symbol of the wall-paper is very powerful, in that Gillman is able to show you how hard it is to be in the situation that the narrator has been placed in. Because of this, she is able to make a strong statement on the treatment of women at this time and kickstart the discussion on proper treatment of the mentally

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