The Theme Of Mental Illness In The Yellow Wallpaper By Charlotte Perkins Gilman

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People often refer to mental illness as being trapped in one’s own mind. This is undoubtedly depicted in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s story “The Yellow Wallpaper.” Gilman’s story, written in 1891, captivates readers and allows one to enter the mind of a mentally ill person and experience this illness in a first-hand narrative version; almost as if reading the diary of Jane. “The Yellow Wallpaper” goes into vast detail of how treatment of mental illness, and the inequality of women, during that era could cause one to spiral into a state of psychosis. “The Yellow Wallpaper” was written in a time when women were oppressed in their homes as well as in society. “Myths regarding menstruation and women’s reproductive system endorsed and virtually …show more content…
John seemed to care about Jane, but in his supervision, he takes away any individuality that Jane has. Jane states, “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. But John says if I feel so, I shall neglect proper self-control; so I take pains to control myself—before him, at least, and that makes me very tired (Gilman. “The Yellow Wallpaper”).” John has so much control over Jane that she does not feel that she can be herself. Pretending to be poised and proper so often in front of the man that she married makes her physically and mentally exhausted. This was exactly what women in the nineteenth century experienced in their daily lives. “Charlotte Perkins Gilman vehemently proclaimed: ‘So utterly has the status of woman been accepted as a sexual one that it has remained for the women’s movement of the nineteenth century to devote much contention to the claim that women are persons! That women are persons as well as females, --an unheard of proposition!’(Murton).” Jane’s frustration with being hindered and oppressed is portrayed when she states, “He is very careful and loving, and hardly lets me stir without special direction. I have a schedule …show more content…
The isolation and oppression that Jane experiences in this story led her into a deeper, darker depression. Jane goes from feeling lonely to locking herself in the room and circling the walls in the end. “But here I can creep smoothly on the floor, and my shoulder just fits in that long smooch around the wall, so I cannot lose my way. Why there’s John at the door!... “’What is the matter?’ he cried. ‘For god’s sake, what are you doing!’ I kept on creeping just the same but I looked at him over my shoulder. ‘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 (Gilman, “The Yellow Wallpaper”)!” This illustrates how the treatment of mental illness and the oppression of women in the nineteenth century drove Jane into a form of psychosis. Jane was finally able to escape the oppression of John, only to escape into

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