The story of the hour 'The Yellow Wallpaper' by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is a mainstay that consists of the feminist literary study (Martson & Bambi 59). Established in 1982, the author published the story from entries of a secret journal of a woman who was to recover from a nervous condition derived from her husband who was a physician. The haunting psychological horror story consists of the author's decency into madness or paranormal. Based on the reader's interpretations the story is a chilling narration that has a clear picture that the house is not the only thing that has a strange story (Martson & Bambi 61). The rented secluded country home including the etic room are inhibited by the narrator to symbolize or represent her experience. While she lived under her husband's care subjected to the 'rest cure' treatment, Gilman's situation turned out to be a postpartum depression (Martson & Bambi 51). The 'Yellow Paper' written by Charlotte Gilman uses her experience as a protagonist to express her health status, facts and fancy, the elaboration of the wallpaper and how she turns to be the creeping woman before her escape.
Infantilization and Better Health
John, the protagonist husband, takes the illness of the author lightly. Instead of offering medicine and other services to his wife, he provides 'rest cure' by confining her to her bedroom (Gilman 85). The woman is restricted from doing anything intellectual even though she still believed that some change and excitement would entertain her. She chose to keep a secret by allowing a little company not from the stimulating people but individuals she only wanted to interact with. John also treated the protagonist like a child by calling her little names such as little girl and little goose.
All choices were also made by John to isolate her from things she values. His actions were also concerned with her position since she used to believe in him so much to the point that when writing her journal she used to quote the "he is loving and meticulous, but he never allows me to stir without his decisions;" (Gilman 92). However, her words sound as if she is parroting the words narrated to her. For instance the words, "Hardly lets me stir" in this case is seen as a veiled complaint (Gilman 92). The protagonist bedroom is also not what she wanted because it looked like a nursery which emphasized her to go back to infancy. The windows to her room were also barred as those for kids' rooms showing that as much she was treated as a kid, she was also imprisoned.
Fancy Versus Facts
Anything in the name of 'fancy' that shows that John dismissed any sign of irrationality and emotions. For instance, when the narrator mentions the word 'the wallpaper' as seen in her bedroom, it shows her how she is allowing it to 'get the better of her' to the point that she cannot remove it (Gilman 64). The husband also dismissed anything fanciful found in the narrator's life. The word 'fancy' here is used by John to dismiss anything he does not like. Moreover, anything that he also declares to be irrational was whenever he did not want anything. Whenever the narrator pursued to have a 'reasonable discussion' with his husband concerning her current situation, she is usually draughted and ends up crying. Instead of the husband consoling her, he uses her tears as evidence that she is irrational to the point that she cannot be trusted with her decisions (Gilman 52).
The husband even talks to her like a whimsical child thinking of her sickness. He uses words like 'bless her little heart, she will be sick as she wants" (Gilman 44) He even does not care that her problems are real by making her go quietly. Therefore the only way that John saw the narrator become rational was when she had no means to express her concerns in exchange for her needs. The protagonist also jots this in her journal stating that "John has no idea how am suffering. He believes that since there is no reason he is then ok with the situation," (Gilman 65) John does not also believe in anything besides what he judges and that why he sees the narrators situation as satisfactory (Gilman 33). He even imagines that the narrator's challenges lie in the way she pursues her life. John never believed that the narrator's situation would ever improve.
The room where the protagonist is put is covered in putrid yellow paper with an eerie, confused patter which makes the narrator to be horrified (Martson & Bambi 67). She even ends up studying the incomprehensible patterns to understand the meaning. However, instead of it making sense, discerns the second pattern to that of a woman creeping behind the first pattern which she finds it a prisoned lady just the way she is (Gilman 65). The wallpaper's first pattern is seen as societal expectations that are narrated by women as being captive. The recovery of the protagonist, in this case, is measured through her happiness when she imagines that she will resume her domestic duties as a mother and wife (Martson & Bambi 74). She also had the desire to extra things such as writing to assist her to recover fully. The narrator continues to study the patterns of the wallpaper until it does not make sense.
No matter how she tried to recover, the more things were confusing. The term recover means that she wanted to embrace her domestic role. The situation of the protagonist also known as the creeping woman represents both the victimization by the resistance and societal norms they experienced. The creeping woman is also used to give a clue why the first pattern is ugly and troubling. This is because the image seemed to be peppered with bulging eyes and distorted heads (that of a creeping woman) strangled by the pattern when they attempted to escape (Martson & Bambi 84). Gilman also stated that "no one can climb through the patterns because it strangles." This means that women who cannot survive the challenges they face they usually tried to resist the cultural norms.
The Creeping Woman
After suffering the narrator eventually becomes the 'creeping woman' when she stated that "every day, I usually creep to the door to lock it," (Gilman 44). In other words, the creeping woman and the narrator work together to pull off the wallpaper. Gilman also added that most creeping women creep as fast just as she does. At this point, the narrator views the creeping women and asks whether will even get out of her situations only as the wallpaper managed to creep out. Her freedom and coming out of the wallpaper coincides with the ripping of the paper, descent into mad behavior, her situation of biting the firm bed and the way she locked herself in the room (Martson & Bambi 88).
The narrator becomes free when she reveals her behavior and beliefs to people around her by exposing herself. The final scene in 'The Yellow paper' is when John falls and collapse thus allowing the narrator to creep out while stepping over him. John then remains to be the one that is weak and sickly because the narrator managed to be the one who makes the rules of her desires. This convinced her that John only pretended to be kind and loving. After his comments and prescriptions infantilized her, she turns the rule telling him that in his mind he should consider himself as a 'young man.' However, since John refused to remove the wallpaper, the narrator took advantage of it and escaped.
Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. "The Haunting of the House in Charlotte Perkins Gilman's 'The Yellow Wallpaper.'" All That Gothic, 2010, pp. 84-101., doi:10.3726/978-3-653-04226-9/19.
Marston, Peter J., and Bambi Rockwell. "Charlotte Perkins Gilman's 'The Yellow Wallpaper': Rhetorical Subversion in Feminist Literature." Women's Studies in Communication, vol. 14, no. 2, 2009, pp. 58-72., doi:10.1080/07491409.1991.11089755.
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