"The Yellow Wallpaper"

1240 words - 5 pages

"The Yellow Wallpaper": A Fuming Relationship or What?"The Yellow Wallpaper", begins with the central character, Jane, who has just given birth to a baby boy. Even though for most mothers a newborn child is a merry time, for some, like Jane, it becomes a tiresome disturbing period that is now popularly understood to be the common disorde; postpartum depression. For example, Jane describes herself as feeling a "lack of strength" (Gilman, 3) and as becoming "dreadfully fretful and querulous" (Gilman, 25). Additionally, she says, "I cry at nothing and cry most of the time" (Gilman, 23).Nevertheless, as the term postpartum depression was not in the language of this time period, John, Jane's husband and doctor, has diagnosed Jane as suffering from "temporary nervous depression a slight hysterical tendency" (Gilman, 36) It may be more precise to view the symptoms she develops later in the story--visual hallucinations, delusions, paranoia and conditions that, prior to the birth of her son, were restrained or in control. The birth of her son precipitated an altercation with John and became a means of her psychosis.Until the very last few lines of the story, Jane herself is unnamed. This nonexistence relates with the invalid reason that she has in the place at which a non-psychotic person would have a relation to the Husband or Father. In addition, even though her name ultimately is revealed, it is, in real meaning, a no name: Jane, as in Jane Doe, as in unnamed, without the past or associations of any sort.Sideways from Jane's mystery, there are other indications that Jane does not fit into the wife or mother relationship. From the opening lines, Gilman makes it clear that the story is created in the world of a feminist. For example, Jane describes the house that she and John rent as an "ancestral hall" and a "hereditary estate" (Gilman, 42)), phrases that bring to mind the male supremacy of Western society. Also, the story's representative male, John, is described in the story as "practical in the extreme". He has no tolerance with faith, an influential horror of superstition, and he scoffs openly at any talk of things not to be felt and seen and put down in figures" (Gilman, 53).John represents law and order and reality. As Jane's physician and husband, he is recognized as ruler over Jane in all domains, personal, professional, and social. Unluckily for Jane, the methods by which John attempts to cure his wife are tremendously coherent and as planned as he is. A devoted "empiricist" he orders for Jane "a schedule prescription for each hour in the day" and bids her over and over again to maintain "proper self control" (Gilman) and "to use her will and good sense" to stifle any imaginative or upsetting tendencies. The power of John's medical diagnosis, as Gilman points out, goes far away from the limits of loving advice, however, as Jane's mental illness gets worse. John does more than merely diagnose the medical problem from which Jane suffers; rather,...

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