The woman behind the wallpaper

Essay by beccagirl61781University, Bachelor'sA+, May 2004

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Charlotte Perkins Gilman's story, "The Yellow Wallpaper", is an account of a mentally disturbed woman and her descend into madness. The story not only depicts the woman's struggle with mental illness, it also displays the struggle women faced in a male dominated society around the 1890's.

The prescription from her husband, John, a practicing physician, is that she goes on "bed rest" to treat her condition. John rarely takes her anxieties seriously, almost shows a lack of concern, and sums up her aliment as, "nervous depression" (330). He also forbids her to "work", this means no visitors and for her to suppress her desire to write. She accepts her husband's and brother's advice to separate from others and obtain excessive quantities of rest until she is well again. "Personally, I disagree with their ideas. Personally, I believe that congenial work, with excitement and change, would do me good.

But what is one to do?" (330). It is evident she does not want to cohere to these rules; she still writes but conceals it. This shows her inability to stick up for herself and how she complies with the influential males in her life. Her husband brings her to an isolated estate, three miles from town where she will begin her forced "bed rest". In the beginning she appears optimistic, but this starts to fade after she enters the room John chose for them. After a short time she begins to show distaste for the room, there are bars on the windows, the bed is unmovable and the wallpaper is extremely unappealing to her. "I never saw a worse paper in my life. One of those sprawling, flamboyant, patterns committing every artistic sin" (331).

It is not made clear where her condition stems from,