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The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte P, Essay Example

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Essay

In literature courses, it is important to choose forms of literature that enable the students to think about social aspects through alternative perspectives.  As a visiting teacher, I would choose to utilize “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.  “The Yellow Wallpaper” is a short story that examines many social issues that exist in today’s society from mental illness, misdiagnosis in the medical profession, and the many different forms of social, familial, and mental confinement.  The author uses the written words of the narrator to tell the story in a very easily read format.  A couple moves into a new home for the summer, and the narrator attempts to describe the events that take place in her new surroundings and examines her thoughts and feelings.  It is important to understand the purpose behind the writing of this story to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for this exhilarating work.  The purpose of “The Yellow Wallpaper” is to examine the many different types of social, familial and supernatural forms of confinement and explain to the reader how it is necessary to attempt to receive freedom in each case.

Social confinement is a common source of restriction that many students will experience, if they have not already, by simply interacting within society.  There are multiple forms of discrimination and limitations placed upon our hopes and dreams.  All literature courses should discuss these social confinement issues in detail.  They are briefly discussed and presented through the plot where the narrator is inhibited by her husband, sister-in-law and the medical community at large.  The main supporting characters within the story are medical professionals, her husband and brother, and neither believes that she is truly sick and that the problems are all in her mind.  She writes in her diary and describes to the reader that she has a case of depression and nervousness that is impossible to overcome.  She literally feels sick and unwell, but her husband and brother continue to believe that it is all in her mind.  Any attempt that she makes to express her illness to other doctors is squashed because of how well her husband’s medical opinion is valued within the health care community.  The narrator is confined to her illness and is not allowed to get well because of the social confinement she receives from the medical community through her husband.  Despite this problem, the narrator continues to try to seek out more medical opinions and attempt to gain her freedom from the social confinement that her husband and brother-in-law have brought upon her.

In all cases, the author is making it clear to the reader that there are many different forms of confinement and the actions of the characters within the story showcase the importance for fighting against confinement and striving to gain freedom.  This story provides an interesting opportunity to spark discussion regarding confinement, social and family issues, or even the existence of supernatural or “higher power” elements that we experience every day.  This story has a fascinatingly obscure climax that makes it unclear what truly happens to the characters, but it is safe to assume that the woman and the narrator have both received some form of freedom from their main sources of confinement.  The author tells this story to explain to the reader that freedom is worth the fight and should continue to be fought for in every aspect of our lives.

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