Escape From The Yellow Wallpaper Literary Critique Paper By Jessica Sullivan I have chosen the short story The Yellow Wallpaper, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, todiscuss as the topic of my Literary Critique. I feel that there is a lot to be learned from this storyas far as medical science, and study of the human mind, or the deterioration of it. This storyreally reflects how fragile we are as human beings. No matter how sound we may start out as, weall have our breaking points. The woman telling the story suffers from mental illness, supposedly a nervous disorder,whether it is defined by depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive-disorder, or somethingslightly more serious. Her illness is characterized by sadness initially, followed by severe vividdelusions or hallucinations, and leading to possible insanity. One of the things that really bother me in the story is how the narrator’s creativity isbanished, un-encouraged, stifled. The story is told by a series of journal entries made by thewoman and easily documents her progress down this road to madness. It is in my opinion thatdoing so can be therapeutic for most, keeping account of one’s feelings, documenting our lifeevents, and just in general getting it out onto paper. I think this is what comforted this individualeven though she was not allowed to be doing so. In a sense she is not allowed to express herself.She is confined to a room by her husband who is a doctor and thinks that this it is in the bestinterest of her to not be allowed to go outside, or to work, and he has control of everything. John
should have encouraged her imagination and creativity instead of trying to force her to conformto his own rigid personality, one severely lacking in excitement. They were recently married andalso recently she gave birth to a child who might further explain some of her symptoms that sheis experiencing and today might be linked to postpartum depression, although the time-period inwhich this story took place these things were not discovered and researched in-depth. We know alot more about treating these issues nowadays as well. Also, it was social norms of this time period that women were expected to fulfill their dutiesas wives and mothers and be content in their existence as nothing more. This oppression I thinkmight have been something our narrator was having a problem coping with. In my eyes, she is held prisoner, and it is so desolate to her, it makes me sad that anyonethought this would help her depression. You can see how this isolation affects her throughout theshort story. I wonder why solitary confinement is ever determined to be a good thing for anyone;it is used as a form of punishment for inmates in prison. Loneliness cannot be good for thehuman soul, and the “rest cure” is simply ridiculous. She soon becomes immediately obsessed with the nursery room wallpaper with “sprawling,flamboyant patterns committing every artistic sin”. She is very poetic and passionate about thiswallpaper. She deciphers and analyzes it, drawing her own meaning from it. She is letting herisolation build anxiety within her and it is driving her mad. It would make me mad too, not onlymentally ill mad, but angry mad. She starts ripping the wallpaper off the wall, symbolic of herown imprisonment. She begins to see “a strange, provoking, formless sort of figure that seemsto skulk about behind that silly and conspicuous front design”. She is hallucinating. There is awoman in the wallpaper, crawling on all fours, trying to escape the bars of a jail cell or prison.
She begins to identify with that woman and sees herself as also a prisoner within the wallpaper.By tearing it down she truly believes that she has broken out of the wallpaper within which herhusband John has imprisoned her. In the end of the story, she escapes, crawls over her husbandand exclaims:"Ive got out at last," said I, "in spite of you and Jane. And Ive pulled off most of the paper, soyou cant put me back!" Had this woman lived in our day and age there would have been much reasonable solutionsavailable for her problems. They simply did not know then what they know now. I am readingalso about the author, that she had a personal experience with depression and wrote this story tohelp combat some of the issues revolving around different treatment methods and theireffectiveness. This story was actually about her. In the end of the story, our main character and narrator begins seeing things; she believes sheis indeed inside the patterns of the yellow wallpaper, and feels safe here. She is confined withinthe walls of her own mind, which happen to be covered in yellow wallpaper. She refuses to leaveand is happy to remain there forever, comfortable."For outside you have to creep on the ground, and everything is green instead of yellow. Buthere I can creep smoothly on the floor, and my shoulder just fits in that long smooch around thewall, so I cannot lose my way."