September 26, 2005


So apparently wallpaper can drive a person mad, or at least according to Charlotte Perkins Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper.

The almost "journal" format of the story makes it a little more personal and gives insight into the mind of this mad woman. Her descent from a slightly disturbed existance to that of sheer insanity is shown by her true thoughts and feelings rather than that of a narrator.

I do not think that she was originally insane but that it occured preogressively through the prescribed "treatment" from her husband. Perhaps the woman merely suffered from fatigue and her captivity, lack of companionship and, truly, a life led her to become insane. Originally I found it odd that her husband was so sweet and so caring (I don't know why I found this odd...I guess I expected, for the time period, a husband to not be so patient). However, I saw that his actions are more cruel than helpful. He basically holds his wife captive, keeping her from experiencing a real life and probably keeping her sick as well. All his "honey"s and "dear"s are covering up a more sinister plan.

As stated by Gilman in her "Why I Wrote 'The Yellow Wallpaper'" essay, she is strivin to bring recognition to such disorders and treatment. "It was not intended to drive people crazy, but to save people from being driven crazy, and it worked." The story is less about actual insanity than it is about its treatment and "cure" of the day. Another writer, ahead of her time, questioning ideas and norms of society.

Posted by VanessaKolberg at September 26, 2005 2:50 PM | TrackBack

I completley agree that i found it odd the man was so very caring. I pictured a much more fierce and dominating figure. But I guess as you said that the actions that he does are worse than the words that he uses. And as we all know actions speak louder than words.
I also agree with the point you made about the author's concern for the treatment of the day compared with the actual insanity. In my mind i think of the people of that time as very judgemental and blow everything out of proportion. She has a little bit of depression...throw her in a mental hospital!!

Posted by: michelle koss at September 26, 2005 11:03 PM

i also thought that her husband was more cruel than helpful, mainly for the fact that he kpet telling her that nothing was wrong with her, when there so obviously was. the part in the story that angered me the most was when she told him how the room with the yellow wallpaper drove her mad and he would not let her change rooms, even though he was barely there. controlling? i think so.

lemme know what you think.

Posted by: lauren etling at September 28, 2005 8:09 AM


As much as I love ya, I think that you are doing too much character analysis. The character in this story is not clearly important as the symbolism and representation of the room itself. I think that we are doing too much character analysis, and not enough depth reading (looking for other aspects) in these stories. The woman was not the main character, the room was.

I say this because the room represents the imprisonment of women from society and their own husbands. Women were "better seen, not heard" and their husbands made decisions and designed their roles for them. The bed, the flaws of the room, and especially the wallpaper represents the shackles being held on a woman's individualistic freedom. I think that is the most important element in this particular story, not the fact that she is sick. Society tells her she's wrong, when in fact, she is right!

I did more research on this particular topic. I think that not many are grasping what is really going on in the particular time period, so I'm going to shed some light on this topic. Here are two sites I found on the roles of women, and the imprisonment of women in the last 19th century.

Here are the sites:

Posted by: Jason Pugh at September 28, 2005 10:53 AM

I couldn't believe that the author actually had an explanation as to why she wrote the story. After reading "Bartleby," where everything had to be read between the lines, this author flat out says, "I wrote this to say this." That shocked me! Part of me was like, "Is she allowed to do that?!"

I agree with you, though. This woman was way ahead of her times. Amazing how today's normal is yesterday's crazy...

Posted by: Valerie Masciarelli at September 29, 2005 1:01 AM

Well, I wouldn't think it was "covering up a more sinister plan." It was more of neglect on John's part. This might be due to the fact that during those times, John's profession and gender makes his decision, I guess you can say, "superior" than the narrator's. Women are merely subordinate of men in the nineteenth-century, if I'm not mistaken.

"The character in this story is not clearly important as the symbolism and representation of the room itself." Well, I think that the narrator is as important as the room itself. The woman in the yellow wallpaper tries to break free of the norms of the society. Throughout the story, we see the narrator develops the same agenda. Initially, she goes along with her husband and his treatment but in the end, she breaks free of whatever she has been imprisoned with.

That moment when the narrator goes "insane" is also the exact moment where she finally realizes herself after all the repression of her feelings because of her husband.

Well, these are all just my opinion... =)

Posted by: Rei at October 17, 2007 9:24 AM
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