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February 8, 2007

Gilman's Wallpaper: A lesson in Poor Interior Design

"I cry at nothing, and cry most of the time.
Of course, I don't when John is here, or anybody else, but when I am alone."

Having studied this work a few times (the roughest study I had was at Penn State when I took a course in female authors...I was, quite literally, the only guy in the class. That hurt), I wanted to look for a quote I hadn't previously used. At PSU, the reading, obviously, had a little bit of a slant. Dr. Rubin, fantastic as she was, strongly moved the course in the direction of studying the character of John and his negligence.

As a matter of principle, I didn't look up any information about Gilman and did my absolute most to forget anything I learned about her. Val only gave me a few gentle reminders. In perfect honesty, the only thing I could really tell you about her life was that, as best we know, was born and woman and remained as such until she died.

I then began looking at quotes that have a personal type of appeal. Something I can associate with my own life or with people known throughout my life.

This quote stuck out to me. Obviously, the type of pattern being shown here is indicative of postpartum depression, but I don't feel is exclusive to such a disorder. I've known lots of people who cry all the time.

Hell, my ex-girlfriend used to cry at the drop of a hat. Barry Manilow's "Mandy" made her cry, alright. But any form of crying or deep emotional strain was kept for private and personal use, never around others...and last I checked, there were no children involved in anything.

By Gilman including this and phrasing it the way she did, one can't help but have an emotional pull - as though we wish we could reach into the pages and save her. For those of us who have read it before and know the eventual outcome, it becomes a stronger urge to save her.

And the notion of not crying in front of others, especially her husband, is outrageous. It goes back to the whole thing of when you ask you wife, husband, girlfriend, boyfriend, whatever..."What's wrong?" and they say "nothing..." but you know something's wrong....

If you keep asking, they'll get angry and then you'll be a cause of further anguish. But if you just leave it alone, you'll be considered self-centered and that nothing matters. If they are willing to tell you, you better listen. On the flip-side, though, if one is unwilling to discuss a problem, well, it might have to come to badgering and sometimes desperate measures to seek help.

I'm a proud, proud man. As a male, I am, typically, the fixer of things. But there are times when I am unable to achieve an end on my own merit or by my own strength. I may be proud, but not too proud to seek help.

I'm not trying to criticize Gilman or anyone in her situation. It is a serious matter and one that needs all the support in the world. But I'm also not going to condemn John's character either, as he was attempting to do what he, an educated man, thought was best.

But we all know where the road paved with good intentions leads to.

Posted by KevinMcGinnis at February 8, 2007 2:33 PM


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