Analysis of 'Yellow Wallpaper'

Essay by katedaenHigh School, 10th gradeA+, July 2004

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The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is a first person narrative about a woman with a mild mental disorder that because of an ineffective treatment and her husband's disregard for her true illness, grows into a serious debilitating problem.

The author, Gilman herself, suffered from a nervous disorder similar to the woman in "The Yellow Wallpaper." She was diagnosed and treated with "rest treatment"; no more than two hours of "intellectual life" were allowed daily- she was to rest for the brunt of the time. Gilman says that because of this treatment she, "...came so near to the border line of utter mental ruin that I could see over." (Charlotte Perkins Gilman 1365) She then discontinued her treatment and began writing again. Partnered with her feminist views, "The Yellow Wallpaper" was written in part to show the negative effect that rest treatment has on many patients.

Gilman mailed a copy of "The Yellow Wallpaper" to the physician that had treated her- but received no response.

According to Elaine R. Hedges, "The Yellow Wallpaper deserves the widest possible audience. For aside from the light it throws on the personal despairs, and the artistic triumph over them , of one of America's foremost feminists, the story is one of the rare pieces of literature we have by a nineteenth-century woman which directly confronts the sexual politics of the male-female, husband-wife relationship." Hedges also explains that the role of the husband is presented as kindly and well-meaning, but that his views of the role of a woman and his opinions of what kind of treatment his wife needed became one of the main factors in his wife's demise (Elaine Hedges 118-119). He also contributed to her mental degeneration by forcing her to stay in...