Yellow Wallpaper By Charlotte Gilman The Yellow Wallpaper is about a creative woman whose talents are suppressed by her dominant husband. His efforts to oppress her in order to keep her within society’s norms of what a wife is supposed to act like, only lead to her mental destruction. He is more concerned with societal norms than the mental health of his wife. In trying to become independent and overcome her own suppressed thoughts, and her husbands false diagnosis of her; she loses her sanity. One way the story illustrates his dominance is by the way he, a well-know and established doctor who should know better than to diagnose a family member, diagnoses her as having a temporary nervousness condition and what he prescribes for her illness, which is bed rest.
Without asking her, he takes her to their summer home to recover from an illness that he doesnt believe she has. He tells her there is no reason why she feels the way she does; she should get rid of those silly fantasies. In saying this to her, he is treating her like a child who doesnt really know how she feels, thus making her doubt herself. When she tries to tell him what she needs, she is completely shut out and ignored. I sometimes fancy that in my condition if I had less opposition and more society and stimulusbut John says the very worst thing I can do is to think about my condition, and I confess it always makes me feel bad.
This statement has a two-fold meaning, in the first part of the sentence he reveals part of his insecurity problem. He is not interested in getting her help because he doesnt want her illness to be resolved with the right support. But in treating her with just bed rest, he is forcing her to dwell on her problems, which is just the opposite of what he wanted. In the second part of the sentence, it seems as though the woman doesnt want to believe what her husband is telling her thus setting the stage for her rebellion. All her husband wants her to do is rest and sleep: he even suppresses her creative talent by not allowing her to write.
She is in constant fear of being caught by her husband; I must put this away, -he hates to have me write a word. It seems as though John is being more of a father than a husband and because of this, she feels that she should be a good girl and appreciate what he is doing for her even though she knows that his diagnosis is killing her. He takes all care from me, and I feel so basely ungrateful not to value it moreHe took me in his arms and called me blessed little goose This is a clear indication of someone trying to run another persons life. By him not allowing her to write he is causing her depression to worsen. If she had been allowed to come and go as she pleased, her depression may have lifted: I think sometimes that if I were only well enough to write a little it would relieve, the press of ideas and rest me.
Her husband is suppressing the one major outlet that will help her get better in her seclusion, writing. By absolutely forbidding her to work until she is well again he is imprisoning her and causing her depression. John has made her a prisoner not only in their home but also in their marriage. Her opinions are not taken into consideration shes not even allowed to take care of her child. He imprisoned her in a room with bars on the windows and a great immovable bed: that is nailed down. She has no say in the location or decoration of the room, I dont like our room a bit.
I wantedBut John would not hear of it. She cant even have visitors: It is so discouraging not to have any advice and companionship about my workbut he says he would as soon put fireworks in my pillow-case as to let me have those stimulating people about now. The description of the room symbolizes what hes doing to her. The room is striped of all beauty and creativity. It is a conservative, conformative, sterile atmosphere, everything that he wants her to be.
Everything that might help her is deliberately kept from her. He has isolated her and is continuing to force his therapy on her without regards to her well being and his intentions may be good, but all that hes prescribed for her is choking the life out of her. There is clear evidence in the text to support the theory that if he would have listened to her instead of trying to impose societys views on her and treating her like an inferior child, she might have recovered. He is more concerned with how society would view him if his wife broke free and pursued her career as a writer, which was unheard of in those days. It seems as if he detested her work and was holding her back from her full potential. When she became comfortable with the room, she begins to tell John about the things shes been thinking (wrong move).
He became terrified of the ideas she was having and pleaded with her to convince her that she must control all of her ambitions and act sanely. It seems as though the doctor is insecure and by treating her this way he wants to restore some of his security about himself. He is implying that she must think of herself as getting better both in mind and body, for the sake of other people, rather than herself. This would not be taking place if she were a man, but because shes not, she doesnt know whats best for her; and this leads to her rebellion and an all-out attempt to prove him wrong. Everything that the doctor told her not to do, from writing to going out, she does.
Rebellion is a source of self-protection, for her sanity, and by writing and disobeying him, she is guarding her sanity. She does this by writing when there is nobody around to see her and by trying to move the bed. In trying to break free she shows some of her creativity by creating the woman that she wants to be and placing her behind the yellow wallpaper, which symbolizes her husband and society. She becomes obsessed with discovering what is behind that pattern and what it is doing. She refuses to leave until she finds out what the woman is doing under the wallpaper.
This may be the narrators attempt to understand her own self and better understand what she wants to do before leaving her comfort zone. She obviously wants to walk out of the room a changed woman and is using this woman she created as her strength and test tool to accomplish this. She wants the woman to be free because in actuality, the woman she created is her sanity. But she doesnt want to let her go because she wants to be like her once shes free. She tries to condone her actions because she knows that what she wants to do wont be excepted by her husband or society.
So she enjoys being out and doing what she likes to do, but at night her husband will be around and she cannot creep around her husband. The final scene is when she develops the courage to confront her oppressor without regards to his wisdom or the fact that hes a doctor. What is the matter? he cried. For Gods sake, what are you doing! She figured since she pulled off most of the wallpaper, shes freed herself from the submissive thinking that her husband likes. He fainted because he wasnt prepared for her diagnosing of herself. He was suppose to be the healer and she turned out to heal herself with little effort from him.
The roles switched and he couldnt understand why his therapy didnt work. Her creeping over him symbolized victory from the struggle of the male dominance in society. It also symbolized her victory because she was a product of a society that puts women in the lowest category, but she freed her soul and now she can run freely. To conclude, from the beginning, the narrator showed a sign of hopelessness but always questioned what her husband thought was best for her. What her husband wanted for her was the exact opposite of what she wanted.
He wanted her to conform, to accept the environment she was placed in, and to not look for outside influences to help strengthen her, which was an indication of his insecurity. She accepted the environment that she was placed in but begin to slowly change it into what she wanted. Even though her husband really believed that he was helping her, he was actually hurting her. He was stuck in societys thinking that woman wanted to be taken care of and thought that, thats what he was doing. He could not understand why she began to react violently and angrily to the environment in which she was placed.
Only by confronting her fears of what society and her husband would think about her, did she allow herself to become free. Once she achieved her independence, she realized that she didnt need to rely on anyone else but herself for her survival. By refusing to be submissive, she traded her sanity for independence.