Charlette However, Gilman allows for the reader to be

Charlette
Perkins Gilman writes “The Yellow Wallpaper” as a critique of the way things
worked among the genders and the ways in which the lives of women in the
Victorian era were limited. A woman’s role was limited to the house and
domestic work, women lacked the opportunities that could lead to personal
growth. Gilman uses the imagery in the story to reflect not only what is going
on inside the narrators’ head but the truth of the how the expectations of a typical
domestic life could drive any woman crazy. 

            The perspective of the story is very
important as it sets the scene and the insight into the mindset of a woman
going mad. Gilman could have written from a third person and had the reader
discover the characters insanity from the a more detached view. However, Gilman
allows for the reader to be in the narrator’s head at every moment as she
slowly goes mad from the use of “the resting cure”. Using the first-person
narrative in the form of a journal written by the narrator gives the reader
access to her most intimate thoughts about her treatment and her marriage, “I
would not say this to a living soul, of course, but this is dead paper and a
great relief to my mind,” (Gilman 792). Gilman chose this viewpoint wisely
knowing most married woman would never say a word against her husband but would
write it secretly in a personal journal. The result of using the more intimate
view, it makes the story is so much more inviting to the reader and ultimately
more alarming.

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            The narrator of the story is a
married woman who is suffering from what the readers know now is post-partum
depression which has been misdiagnosed in the story as a case of nerves or
hysteria, by her husband who is a doctor. He takes her to a secluded house to
give her the treatment called the resting cure. Gilman was against this cure
having gone through the treatment herself, and as she said, “came so near the
border line of utter mental ruin,” (Gilman 804). She writes the husband, John,
as a typical man who thinks that his wife isn’t actually sick and that it is
all in her head, that she should just remain calm and continue with her domestic
life as is expected of her in this century. John even though he probably loves
his wife he looks down on his her, he even laughs about his wife’s ideas. The
narrator is not surprised by this she even says it was expected in marriage,
any reader should be bother by the fact that a husband does not take his wife
seriously. John never takes into account his wife’s feeling especially when it
comes to the room with the yellow wallpaper. In the story the narrator says
consistently that she would rather take one of the nicer rooms downstairs, but
John calls her a “blessed little goose,” (Gilman 794). and insist that they
stay in the room that he picked out which of course was once a nursery that had
bars on the windows.

 Gilman
didn’t write the narrators husband to be an intentionally cruel man, John is
described as, “practical in the extreme. He has no patience with faith, an
intense horror of superstition and he scoffs openly at any talk of things not
to be felt and seen and put down in figures,” (Gilman 792). This insight on
John lets the reader know that he is a factual man and does not take to flights
of fancy or imagination, and does not believe that imaginative fancies are good
for his wife’s health. So, John does what a lot of people thought was the best
option to help his wife, a cure that rests the mind, but it is unintentional
neglect. Leaving his wife alone too long with just her thoughts, and growing
weaker from no physical activity or stimulation. When the narrator asks to
visit her cousins, and basically ends up crying on the floor since her husband
told her no she is not well enough he uses this logic to sedate her, “He says
no one but myself can help me out of it, that I must use my will and
self-control and not let any silly fancies run away with me,” (Gilman 797) This
is a show of control that John has over his wife Gilman uses John’s word choices
in the story to show that men thought that women are helpless, and Gilman
deliberately wrote John this way so he always calls his wife some version of
“silly” or “little” when she makes a suggestion to do something other then what
he thinks is best for her. Throughout the story John belittles his wife, and
treats her like a child, “‘What is it, little girl?’ He said. ‘Don’t go walking
about like that—you’ll get cold,'” (Gilman 798). Even though it goes against
the narrators’ best instincts she still follows her husband cure schedule,
Gilman uses this to show the reader the gender oppression was ruling over the
narrators’ life.

Next
the imagery used in the story brings the madness to life for the reader. The
narrator is being given the rest cure as a treatment for her nerves, she is not
allowed many things including any physical actives, which includes writing.
This leaves her to only be able to concentrate on the details of her surroundings,
most notably the wallpaper. The wallpaper, in the beginning of the story, is
described as “flamboyant” and “the color revolting,” (793).
This is presented as a passing detail of the arrival at the house which they
are staying, her thorough description of the wallpaper is used to show the
reader that she has a quick eye for details. The narrator always gives more
details every time she is alone in the room with the yellow wallpaper. The
descriptions of the wallpaper changes throughout the story as the narrator
looks for a pattern as she lay in bed resting, “follow that pattern about by
the hour…I determine for the thousandth time that I will follow that pointless
pattern to some sort of a conclusion,” (Gilman 796). This is the start of her
mental decay as she grows accustomed to the yellow wallpaper and by looking for
a pattern this tells the reader more about the current psyche of the narrator,
as she starts to see more in the wallpaper itself until she has convinced
herself that there is a woman inside the wallpaper stooping behind bars, “And
it is like a woman stooping down and creeping about behind that pattern. I
don’t like it a bit,” (Gilman 797). Gilman uses the woman in the wallpaper as a
metaphor for the narrator’s current existence and the current life that women
in society generally held. As Gilman thinks that marriage in the Victorian Era is
nothing more than a confinement to a domestic life. The narrator eventual does
come to a mental break as she has convinced herself that she has come from the
wallpaper, “‘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!'” (Gilman 803).