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The Yellow Wallpaper Analysis Essay

Eng 112
Paper 1
In The Yellow Wallpaper, originally published in 1899, Charlotte
Gilman presents the internal dialogue of a woman diagnosed with “hysteria”
and for whom total rest has been prescribed. In the short story, the
patient is slowly driven mad by her cure, prescribed by her physician
husband, and is cut off from any intellectual pursuits whatsoever. The
misdiagnosis of depression and anxiety leads the woman on a downward spiral
that eventually causes her to perceive the yellow wallpaper in her room as
a projection of herself.The woman is eventually able to regain self-
empowerment by tearing down her barriers, in the form of the wallpaper in
her room.

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The narrator initiates the story by describing a beautiful, but
prison-like house, run by the protagonist’s husband that both realistically
and symbolically confines his wife. The husband keeps his wife
incommodious for two probable reasons. First, the husband was a physician
and despite his good intentions, ignorantly prescribed the worst treatment
imaginable for depression, inactivity. Second, most likely due to society
at the time, the man arrogantly perpetuates an ideological prison that
subjects and silences his wife. The husband prescribes a remedy for his
wife, a woman, which he would not also recommend for a man. Because the
doctor’s decision was based on no physiological or proven psychological
difference between man and woman, the doctor’s rational is not merely
medical, but sexist. Society supported the sexist idea that did not
believe a woman should enjoy creative expression, mental stimulus, or
access to things that fulfill her.These beliefs influenced the husband’s
decision to confine his wife physically which also lead to her
psychologically imprisonment.

Further evidence of John’s sexist and psychological ignorance reveals
itself when he refers to his wife as “little girl” and repeatedly coos such
phrases as “blessed little goose” or “bless her little heart” when speaking
to her. (Gilman 23) These alleged terms of endearment tap into what the
famous psychologist Thomas A. Harris would refer to as, her “Not OK child.”
Harris explains these terms in his book, I’m OK You’re OK, based on Eric
Burne’s ideas called Transactional Analysis. Harris explores in depth what
he calls ‘life positions’. At some stage early in our lives we adopt a
“position” about ourselves that very significantly determines how we feel
about ourselves, particularly in relation to other people. Harris used
Berne’s work as a basis for his own, focused on the internal voices that
speak to us all the time in the form of archetypal characters: the Parent,
the Adult and the Child (the PAC framework). All of us have Parent, Adult
or Child ‘data’ guiding our thoughts and decisions, and Harris believed
that transactional analysis would free up the Adult, the reasoning voice.

The Adult in us prevents a hijack by unthinking obedience (Child), or
ingrained habit or prejudice (Parent), leaving us a vestige of free will.

John clearly hijacks his wife’s “Child” and leaves her dependent and
obedient. John’s ignorance of psychology does not enable him to realize
that he is being sexist and harmful to his wife.

One can see at the beginning of the book that the woman is not too far
gone. Her first impression is of the ugly wallpaper; she has “never seen a
worse paper in her life” (Gilman 18).Almost immediately; however, she
begins to project herself onto the wallpaper, describing the pattern’s
“lame uncertain curves” that “suddenly commit suicide-plungeing off at
outrageous angles; destroying themselves in unheard-of contradictions”
(Gilman 18-19). It is the woman herself who feels lame and uncertain,
fears suicide, and fears that she herself will suddenly plunge off at some
outrageous angle; all of which are symptoms of depression. Her self-
control is still intact, but like the wallpaper, disturbing patches show
through. She states she is trying to follow “that pointless pattern to
some kind of conclusion (21). Obviously, she is trying to find some sort
of pattern and reach some kind of conclusion about her own life. She
eventually notes that the “dim shapes” skulking behind the overlaying
pattern are getting clearer; they have begun to resemble a woman, stooping
down and creeping. The protagonist and the woman in the wallpaper are
identical; the woman in the wallpaper is a projection of herself. At the
end, in emulation of the wallpaper woman, she has begun to crawl and creep
around the room in a bizarre re-enactment of the drama in her mind. The
woman at last rips the wallpaper off the wall, freeing both the wallpaper
woman and herself. After this action, the woman begins to regain self-
empowerment and self-control once again. Thomas Harris would explain her
action as forward progress toward achieving her “OK” or “Adult” self.

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This story allows the reader to understand the sexist culture of the
time and the struggles a woman had to endure. Mental illnesses such as
depression and anxiety show no distinction between the male and female
brain. Charlotte Gilman may not have even fully understood the principles
of psychology her story portrays; nevertheless, her story does so
powerfully.

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The Yellow Wallpaper Analysis Essay
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Artscolumbia

Eng 112
Paper 1
In The Yellow Wallpaper, originally published in 1899, Charlotte
Gilman presents the internal dialogue of a woman diagnosed with "hysteria"
and for whom total rest has been prescribed. In the short story, the
patient is slowly driven mad by her cure, prescribed by her physician
husband, and is cut off from any intellectual pursuits whatsoever. The
misdiagnosis of depression and anxiety leads the woman on a downward spiral
that eventually causes her to p

2018-12-27 03:49:27
The Yellow Wallpaper Analysis Essay
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