An Analysis Of The Yellow Wallpaper English Literature Essay


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One day William Shakespeare said that every type of madness has its own logic. Thus, we are going to talk about madness in this essay. The main aim is to analyze the theme of madness in the genius short story "The Yellow Wallpaper" written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and firstly published in press in 1892. In the essay we are going to discuss different interesting techniques that help to reveal the true essence of the story and also we are going to observe them in specific details.

First of all it is necessary to mention that Charlotte Perkins Gilman was a famous feminist author who wrote and published most of her stories between the period of the late 1800s and the early 1900s. Describing "The Yellow Wallpaper" in several words it is possible to say that this is the most famous Gilman's story that reflects author's feminist views. Gilman like any other author used her stories and different writings as a specific way of expressing her emotions and feministic views to the public. So, "The Yellow Wallpaper" shows different statements not only about feminism, but also about male and female individuality.

Gilman uses different interesting techniques in her story and one of them is a specific use of color. Thus, in this part of the essay we are going to talk about color symbolism in "The Yellow Wallpaper". The title of the story shows us that the main color is yellow and it proves that the yellow wallpaper itself is symbolic of the oppression that men as a dominant part of society attempted to place on weak women during the late 1800s. Different psychological studies proved that color can rejoice and grieve, it can affect person's health and disability; so, the appearance of madness under the influence of specified color is really possible. The representatives of different sciences noticed many years ago that color has its own force of the impact on a person in appropriate conditions (Weeks, 1998). Many philosophers and physicists, psychologists and doctors, again and again addressing the issue of color, trying to solve it, and Gilman in her story used the proper color by intuition.

Events that took their place in the short story "The Yellow Wallpaper" proved that not for nothing the color yellow is often associated with different types of weakness and sickness, and a mysterious nature of main heroine's illness could be considered a symbol of man's oppression over the female sex. It is impossible to disagree with the fact that clear symbolism of yellow as a signal of illness comes from the times of medieval plague. In that period of time all the contaminated areas were marked with yellow crosses and Gilman very clearly noticed that yellow as a 'provocateur' of madness have depicted female struggle against male dominance and symbolically introducing it as 'plague' of those times society. In such a case male characters (heroine's husband and brother) were trying to ignore heroine's attempt to pay their attention on her and into the acknowledgment of these words we can use the next statement: "You see, he does not believe I am sick! And what can one do? If a physician of high standing, and one's own husband, assures friends and relatives that there is really nothing the matter with one but temporary nervous depression - a slight hysterical tendency - what is one to do?" (Gilman,1892). Basing on the above mentioned statement we could mention that it also showed that heroine was not slowly become mad in her room, but she was trying to tell about her depression in spite of her relatives' indifference.

Narrative point of view used in the story as a specific technique helps readers to be involved in described situation. Main heroine is presented as weak a woman who is protected by her family, but who is suffered from this type of protection. Analysis of those times situation showed that marriage was the most promising way to arrange own life for woman and, moreover, there was a general belief that a married woman does not need to work because her husband should to take care of her and her main mission is to stay at home and be a good wife for her husband and excellent mother for her children. (Hercus, 2004). The fact that the woman want or have to work, could damage the reputation of the entire family, as this would mean that family is poor and its social status is rather low.

Using specific examples from the story we could prove that madness was provoked by the presence of not only yellow wallpaper as inattentive reader could say reading the story. The story is full of different examples, whet the main heroine shows her feelings and attempts to find a response and help in her closes relatives' hearts. Submissive relationships of male dominance are brightly depicted in situation of heroine's almost 'imprisonment' in her bedroom for the purpose of her so-called rest and recovering of her health: "So I am absolutely forbidden to "work" until I am well again." (Gilman,1892). She was forbidden to have any visitors: "It is so discouraging not to have any advice and companionship about my work … but he says he would as soon put fireworks in my pillow-case as to let me have those stimulating people about now," or even to write something. (Gilman,1892). So, the woman was fully under the oppression of her family and exactly this oppression greatly impact on her mental health.

Thus, taking everything into the consideration it is possible to conclude that due to the Gilman's story society has gradually depart from the strict binding of various economic and behavioral norms based on sex, from traditional notions of the constructed gender-based division of household, parenting and labor activity outside the home.

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