Mother was Right Again...You Need to Get Your Sleep!

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From Keesey's Contexts for Criticism:

"I'm feeling ever so much better!  I don't sleep much at night, for it is so interesting to watch developments; but I sleep a good deal in the day" (Gilman 536).

My mother always stressed the importance of sleep.  My freshman year, I didn't think that it was that important to go to bed and not spend all night talking with friends or watching tv.  Since then, I've grown to rediscover the importance of sleep.  I've found that if I get the recommended eight hours, I don't get tired at all and keep my sanity.  This ability to stay awake, especially in night class, is like having a super power.

Our main character first seems like a sleep-a-holic.  Everything makes her tired: writing, controlling herself, the Fourth of July party, having her husband read to her, staring at the wallpaper.  We all know that repetition usually indicates importance in literature and this story is no different.  The sleep is correlated with her disorder which we are left to assume is post partum depression.  When the story begins, the main character seems to want to sleep a lot, pretty much anytime she does anything, day or night.  As the story progresses, however, her sleep patterns change.  This pattern had a connection to her aversion to people.  The first time she says she didn't sleep when told to on page 536, she admits to no longer trusting John and her daughter two short paragraphs later.

She switches to a more nocturnal lifestyle in order to be less intimate with people, and more intimate with the people in the wall and the depths of her infected imagination.  The ones she loved in sickness are turned into adversaries that she would rather kill than let know about the girl in the wall.

The chosen paragraph is the last instance where sleep is mentioned.  With this paragraph, Gilman demonstrates to the reader that the remainder of our narrator's sanity has disappeared and she is now completely one with the darkness literally and figuratively.  If it's light outside, she sleeps, ignoring the family and human contact.  If it's dark, she's alone with her imagined friends.

Back to the course webpage!

 

4 Comments

Derek Tickle said:

I agree with you when you say about getting enough sleep! Now back to the quote - It seems as though when the narrator does not get enough sleep then she loses her sanity, per say, and exhibits more sickness like qualities. This story is very interesting because of the many interpretations that a reader can have. When you mention, 'her imagined friends' I think about the narrator seeing eternal figures such as angels or spirits. It seems as though she wants to be with these 'friends,' instead of her family.

Kayley Dardano said:

Both Derek and Angela had very interesting points
Angela- “he sleep is correlated with her disorder which we are left to assume is post partum depression.” This is a great point that I never thought of when reading this story. But I’m not sure if it is the reason that she is insane.

james lohr said:

Sleep deprivation is no joke, i suffer from sleep apnea, and much the main character in "The Yellow Wall-paper" I could sleep all day most of the time and never feel rested. My first time in college I became so sleep deprived i was forced to leave school.

Katie Vann said:

Angela, I like the points you made. Your points are like a counterarguement to my paper. I think that although I too found references that pointed to post partum depression, I don't believe that was Gilman's full intent. I'm leaning more towards Gilman depicting women in society, but I think your interpretation could be correct as well.

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