The Rest Cure In Charlotte Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper

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Charlotte Gilman published her short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” in 1892 in an attempt to draw attention to not only the danger of the Rest Cure but also to shed light on the treatment of women throughout the late nineteenth century. Women during this time were instructed to remain within their traditional gender roles which typically included tending to the home and children. As Rula Quawas explains, women were only believed to be happy if they adhered to qualities that included “piety, purity, submissiveness, and domesticity” (35). This was often referred to as the Cult of Domesticity; however, this expectation of women resulted in doctors marginalizing the emotions of women resulting in so called “cures” such as the Rest Cure. Dr. Mitchell’s Rest Cure “enforced bed rest, seclusion and overfeeding,” (Stiles 32) and, “centered on the body as the site of health and disease” (Thrailkill 526). Therefore, the Rest Cure was shaped by the ideals outlined by what we now call the Cult of Domesticity. As a result of these sexist ideas, the Rest Cure did not cure the severe depression felt by women during this time period but in some women only worsened their condition. Dr. Silas Weir Mitchell’s gender-biased Rest Cure drove several women, including Gilman, near insanity …show more content…
All of these interpretations establish Gilman’s clear feminist purpose behind writing “The Yellow Wallpaper.” While Jane’s apparent insanity by the end of the short story exemplifies the dangers of the Rest Cure, the sexist treatment of Jane and the “freeing” of the woman behind the wallpaper best exemplifies the feminist agenda in writing “The Yellow

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