The Yellow Wallpaper

“The Yellow Wallpaper” of Oppression and the Mind

Charlotte Perkins Gilman Perkins Gilman wrote “The Yellow Wallpaper” in 1892, before the big women’s rights movement and in a patriarchal era, especially in America. The story involves a woman writer, like Gilman, who is ill and slowly succumbs to insanity over a period of three months. The funny thing is that this “psychosis” the narrator incurs is directly because of her husband, John. John, who is also her physician, prescribes her to remain in the room she slowly loses her mind to. In this way, Gilman makes a bit of her intent shown: Gilman is stating that the oppression of women was causing serious mental health risks to women, “The Yellow Notebook” is just a dramatization of a severe case.
We begin on page 70, where the narrator firsts mentions her discomfort with the house they moved to in order to help her condition. “I would say a haunted house…Still I will proudly declare that there is something queer about it.” (70) is the first sign of the narrator’s uneasiness with the house. She immediately follows this with “John laughs at me, of course, but one expects that in marriage.” Is the first sign of oppression, her husband dismisses her concerns what seems to be regularly based on the language used. John shows signs of controlling early in the story as well, shown when the narrator says “I have a schedule prescription for each hour in the day; he takes all care from me…” (71). After her description of the room John is forcing her to stay in on page 72, two weeks pass in the story. In the first few paragraphs after the time break, the narrator states “John does not know how much I really suffer, He knows there is no reason to suffer, and that satisfies him.”, pushing some of the blame of her current condition onto her husband. These all show Gilman is slowly moving the reader to sympathize with the narrator’s poor condition while pointing the patriarchal figure to blame for the confinement of the room,...