Yellow Wall Paper

Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s, The Yellow Wall-Paper, written in the early part of the 1900’s, is an excellent example of the common belief during that time which held that women were too weak to handle stress and as a result, often collapsed under it. During this time, society frowned on women who did anything besides cleaning house and raising children. It was believed that they could not handle anything else. If, however, a woman fell victim to a nervous breakdown, the only remedy was shutting her up inside her home, which in Gilman’s view only worsened things. The Yellow Wall-Paper is a fictitious account of a time when Gilman herself suffered a nervous breakdown. Her husband, solitude, and her hallucinations, drove her to disconnect from reality, which in turn, lead to her independence. Charlotte’s husband, is the first element that drove her to disconnect from reality, which in turn, lead to her independence. Although well intentioned, John takes away what little power she has by regulating everything she does. Charlotte is presumed to be weak, unable to cope with normal activities. She is not even allowed to write, and says that, “he hates to have me write a word.” Throughout the story, he is condescending, referring to her as a “little girl” and insists that she take a room she does not like, as if she were a child. In fact, the room they stay in used to be a nursery, and has child-safe bars on the windows, making her seem even more like a child and a prisoner. It is odd to note that, Charlotte, being the one for whom the vacation is taken, is not allowed to do what she wants. John, in his pragmatic reasoning, believes he has her best interest at heart and forbids her to work. Charlotte disagrees, and believes that, “congenial work, with excitement and change, would do me good.” (Gilman) He feels he is helping her by not giving her any responsibility, when in reality, her lack of control over her own life …

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