Contrasting Maddness Is "435" And "yellow Wallpaper"

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Arden D. Keeton English 205-15 Dr. Jodi L. Wyett Contrasting Madness in "435" and "The Yellow Wallpaper" Emily Dickinson's "435" and Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper" address madness in thought-provoking ways. These two bodies of work give madness a tangible presence while offering a definitive reason for its onslaught.

From the opening lines of "435", Dickinson introduces the idea Society has a role in madness, "Much Madness is divinest Sense-To a discerning Eye" (4). In these two lines Dickinson questions the standards of the majority. What appears crazy, or mad to the majority may seem normal to a minority. The next two lines, "Tis the Majority - In this, as All, prevail" (4), says ideals the majority embraces as sane may in truth be madness. In case there is any doubt of Dickinson's intentions, she impales society with the responsibility of madness. "Assent "“ and you are sane - Demur "“ you're straightway dangerous "“ And handled with a Chain-" (4).

What she says is that if you agree with the majority of society, then you are sane. If you disagree then you must be dangerous and a threat to society. For that you will be chained to an animal stall and be rehabilitated.

Poem "435", is Dickinson's protest to women's role and status in the late 19th century. During this time upper-middle-class women were expected to marry young, have children and clean house. Any form of creativity by women with family duties was held in contempt and usually forbidden. Once a woman was married her life belonged to her husband, legally and literally. Married women did not have a choice concerning her life. By many accounts Dickinson pitied her friends who got married, because their life was no longer their own.

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