The Rest Cure Analysis

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The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, is an example of early work of feminist literature for its illustration of attitudes toward physical and mental women’s health. The narrator of this piece is the wife of John, who is a physician. We follow her story as she is brought to an old estate by her husband due to her mental condition, which her husband labels as “temporary nervous depression-a slight hysterical tendency” (Gwynn, pg. 78). She is placed in a nursery where she is forbidden from working, writing anything down, is told to eat well, exercise, and to get plenty of air. This “therapy” ultimately fails and the woman details in her journals which she hides from her husband, her descent in to insanity or in another type of interpretation, …show more content…
The Rest Cure was developed by Silas Weir Mitchell, an influential American neurologist, in the late 1800’s. This treatment was designed for the cure of hysteria, neurasthenia, and many other mental illnesses. While the treatment was designed for both genders, the rest cure was typically prescribed to more women than men. The “cure” itself typically lasted anywhere from six to eight weeks and involved separating the patient from friends and family, enforcing bed rest upon them, eating a diet which consisted of a fatty, milk-based foods, and were preventing from writing and even talking in some cases. In the end, this treatment almost always did more harm than good, leading doctors and patients such as Gilman and Virginia Wolfe, to doubt its ability to help the patients it was prescribed for. This “cure” was just one symptom that contributed towards the overall negatively and ignorance that was directed towards women during most of history. It is only now that we have seen a surge in feminist criticism and theory that allows us to look back and observe how women were treated poorly throughout history. Therefore I will be putting Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper under a microscope of Feminist Theory in order to probably examine it as a source of the troubles that have …show more content…
In these journals we learn of her husband’s treatments and her disbelief in their efficiency, but trusts in her husband as he is the expert with her condition. However, as we progress through the story, we learn that her mind is getting progressively worse the longer she is isolated. This can be seen specifically after the 4th of July when her family came in for week but in her words, “Of course I didn’t do a thing. Jennie sees to everything now. But it tired me all the same” (Gwynn, pg. 82). This shows that men during this time were unable to think of women as able to perform tasks that men can. Had her husband allowed her to assist with the preparations, it is possible that they would’ve seen more progress with her post-partum depression in comparison to the steps she had been going through with the rest

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