The Theme Of Mental Illness In The Yellow Wallpaper

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Times were exceedingly different. The Yellow Wallpaper, written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman in 1890, depicts a story of a young woman and her struggles. It details her battle with mental illness and the steps that are taken to “cure” her. She has just had a baby, but cannot visit her bundle of joy, and is instead being confined to a “summer vacation” home. What we now know as postpartum depression, is diagnosed as nervous depression with hysterical tendencies. Her symptoms gradually worsen, and the disease eventually drives her mad. She begins to lose sense of herself and becomes obsessive over “the woman in the wallpaper.” Though it helps her, she cannot write and is “prescribed” to eat, rest, and take her abundance of medication by her …show more content…
This was during a time when postpartum depression was very prominent, yet the physicians at the time were unaware of what this was. They would prescribe rest and well eating then send the patients home to be wives again. The story depicts what it was like for the patients during this time. When the narrator begins to struggle and fall deeper and deeper into depression, she doesn’t quite understand the problem as no one takes her seriously. She recognizes her mental deterioration but has no sound way of helping herself. “It is getting to be a great effort for me to think straight. Just this nervous weakness I suppose” (Gilman). She simplifies her issues despite knowing that there is a far more serious underlying problem. Her knowledge of this is displayed through her obsession with the wallpaper and the woman within it. She recognizes the abnormality of her fixation to the inanimate object yet cannot prevent it. She personifies her mental issues through the woman in the wallpaper. At the end of the story when the narrator says “I’ve got out at last…” (Gilman), portrays the theme of freedom. Women didn’t have much of a choice at the time; but, this symbolizes the narrator breaking free of the norm and finally doing what was best for

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