The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Essay Example
What constitutes the occurrence of mental disability on individuals and how should it likely be dealt with? In the story of the Yellow Wallpaper, Charlotte Perkins Gilman tries to present the situation through pointing out that in the 19th century, dealing with mental imbalances specifically affect the being of the persons involved in the situation. However, more than just presenting the main character, which is a woman, as a mentally ill individual, it tries to explore the different issues that constraints the capacities of women to be free during the said era. Most likely, it could be understood that women were specifically kept out from the society during the time, it was very common during the said era that women were set aside, only brought out to be presented as forms of ‘awards’ or ‘trophy’ for their husbands. Keeping them from the capacity of developing further as individuals has kept the women within the constraints of their homes.
How has this specific process of treatment among women affected the entirety on how women developed during the said era? Indirectly, the journal written by the woman [the story’s narrator] gives a glimpse on what such treatment leaves in the mental, emotional and intellectual being of a person. Relatively, her case was noted by his husband as temporary nervous depression. Being a physician, it was as if the husband of the narrator was considered to have high authority on managing the situation that the woman was going through. Regarding this, the woman writes in her journal: He said that after the wallpaper was changed, it would be the heavy bedstead and then the barred windows, and then the gate at the head of the stairs and so on (1.14). Imposing control on matters she can and cannot do, the room was supposed to keep her off from situations that may harm her; it was supposed to contain her within a controllable environment that could keep her away from experiencing matters that could further aggravate her ailment.
However, it is because of these particular protective limitations imposed by the husband that the situation of the woman has become aggravated. Being situated within a room where she is left to be isolated from the world, she had no choice but to try to use her memory to actually find a way to distinctively mandate her current situation. To this she notes on her journal: I never saw so much expression in an intimate thing before; and we all know how much expression they have! I used to lie awake as a child and get more entertainment and terror out of blank walls and plain furniture than most children could find in a toy-store (2.70). Imagining matters that could have been has been the beginning of her journey. However, later on, being surrounded by a yellow wallpaper, she began to think of negative things, as if she was already drained of positive thoughts that they cannot create good thoughts in relation to the situation anymore. She slowly embraced her current situation; she began to take note of the fact that she will not be able to gain any better environment than that of the one where she is contained in. As a result, she began thinking of yellow matters that described a more negative picture thus affecting the way she things and the way she sees her current status; she mentions how the stink of the wallpaper caused her to feel nauseous at times. Relatively, this impacted her psychotic situation. In relation to the situation of women then, it could be related that this matter of reaction that women have over the fact of being set aside in the community, not given the chance to work nor develop individually, the woman in the story represents how the women in those years choose to simply accept their status in the society. Most of the women who are specifically kept aside by their husbands learn to adapt to their position in the house and in the relationship that they share with their partners. Mostly, women tend to settle for what they are given; they lose the capacity to gain control of how they live their lives, therefore simply letting others [specifically their husbands] to gain greater control on their situation. At times, they become incapable when it comes to making decisions even for the most basic situations in life. This makes them highly dependent on their husbands especially in realizing the most promising conditions that could bring them a better sense of understanding their role as wives or as women as a whole.
On the other end, another part of the story presents how the woman [narrator] in the story has become accustomed to the room, wanting to stay in there even though she knew that there was so much more to life than there was anything in her room. In relation to this matter, her journal states: Life is much more exciting now than it used to be. You see, I have something more to expect, to look forward to, to watch. I really do eat better and am more quiet than I was (7.1). Likely, the woman wanted to stay in the room, because it is where she feels comfortable and safe. Symbolically, the women of the early 19th century felt comfort within their desire of being accepted by their husbands. The control that their husbands implicated on them made them accept a course of life that they have been placed in; a course of life that they were directed to follow. It made it harder for them to expand their choices; to find for better situations in life that they could embrace. Notably, it could be realized that somehow, with such process of mind conditioning, the women became more accepting to their current situation.
The relationship between men and women became more authoritative [especially on the part of the men]. The women became extremely subjected to their husbands that their lives have seemingly been barricaded. Understandably, it could be noted that with such situation keeping the women from realizing what more life offers them, it was easier to indicate how women were kept within the constraints in the past which made it harder for them to develop further. Perhaps, the general condition of women were not as psychotically defined as that of the woman described in the story, however, it could be noted that somehow, the women back then, compared to the current years of liberation, have lesser chances of developing themselves into something that they may have wanted to embrace. Being contained within the constraints that their husbands have been subjected to, the women were not given any choice; a huge point of difference that the women back then have with the women at present.
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