“The Yellow Wallpaper” explains a woman’s life in that time period, especially that of the narrator, who is living a life of a typical housewife of that time, but who is not able to cope with the oppression. Seems like the narrator fails to see her imprisoned state till towards the end of her story. The main character or the narrator is married to a doctor who is a typical male of those times. Also she has a brother who is in a similar profession as her husband.
The narrator knows that she is not too well and that John – her husband does not realize the intensity of her sickness, he ignores her continuous efforts to make him aware of the real situation and her suffering. To make the situation worse he imposes his opinions on her even when it comes to her health. This story shows us the life and the thoughts of the narrator which lead her to be free, but go out of her mind in the sense of the real world. This story is written as if the narrator is writing it.
The narrator is sick and her husband has made her a study project, She is continuously watched and thus she has no privacy. The critic of this paper Beth Snyder points out a similar view Hon’s condemnation of both the narrator’s imaginative vagaries and her writing impels his wife to write in secret and to seek a kind of obscurity in the bedroom, because no one must “find” her writing. Writing, then, becomes its own means for establishing inferiority. But because so much of the story relies on looking and being looked at, both obscurity and secrecy are problemised for Gilman’s narrator.
Hidden, she cannot hide, and is always illuminated for her spectator-husband “when the sun shoots in through the east window” or when “the moon shines in all night when there is a moon”. Snyder in her paper, also mention another view, “It is essential for the narrator to believe that she is writing on dead paper, but she writes for an audience regardless of the paper’s “lifelines” and brings another consciousness into the bedroom (the introduction of the audience seems to defy the deadness of the paper)”. The narrator is extremely lonely, not in a physical sense, but in a emotional sense.
She does not have anyone to express her feelings to so she uses the audience to narrate to and she does it by the means of the paper. She makes continuous efforts during her stay in the house to express her real feelings to her husband, but she keeps being disregarded. For example, she hated the room that was given to her, and she rather have the room downstairs, but she was completely ignored and the room that her husband had liked is the room that she had to live in. Disregarding her feelings about many things which were important to her happen along the course of the whole story.
The incidences of the wallpaper, bedroom and the suggestion of her visit to her cousin- they were all ignored and the ones that were followed were all john’s decisions. Snyder expresses similar feelings in her paper “John continually dismisses the narrator, saying, “You really are better, dear, whether you can see it or not. I am a doctor, dear, and I Know” John trivializes her and reduces the narrator to “his darling and his comfort” who must take care of herself “for [John’s] sake”. It would seem as if the narrator never answers John on her own terms.
But there are those moments when the narrator answers John by not speaking at all, when, in the same way she chooses to write– “I don’t know why I should write this. . . . But I must say what I feel and think in some way”– she chooses to close her journal and fall silent” (Snyder, 1999). The narrator gives up trying to communicate her feelings to John, but in the end she surmises, which is what leads her on to look for another source to express herself, writing being one. Such a treatment from John also causes her to feel controlled.
The fact that she is being controlled is clear, as she does not want to be in the house in the first place, but she does not want to admit it and she keeps claiming that John is doing this to her because he loves her. She does express her exasperation a few times in the story “Personally I disagree with their ideas. Personally, I believe that congenital work, with excitement and change, would do me good. But what is one to do? ” (Gilman, 1999). She despite her unhappiness with the situation gives in to the views of the men in her life.
In this story it can clearly be seen where she starts realizing these things, and where she starts fearing her husband and which later turn into dislike. She clearly states the fact that John was hard to talk to, and that she is really afraid of john. She is unhappy about her life and her status. There is also a great deal of control, which is exercised by john upon his wife for example the time when she made the request to be allowed to go see her cousin Henry and Julia, she was completely denied despite her wishes.
The time when she tried to tell him that living in that house is not helping her, John completely ruled her opinion and when she tried to protest, he looked at her sternly. Snyder points out “John’s methodology in no way compares to the paterfamilias’ fifteenth century spatial rationale in this respect, for John does not offer his wife even a semblance of household authority, not even so much as the care of her child. This clearly explains that she was afraid of him. John had also made threats to her getting well as the narrator says ” John says if I don’t pick up faster he shall send me to Weir Mitchell in the fall” ( Gillman 1996).
Weir Mitchell happens to be similar in behavior bad treatment as her husband and her brother and she clearly states that she did not want to go there. Thus she is under a lot of pressure to get better, yet John is doing nothing according to her will , and instead he keeps dismissing her concerns and her opinions. She also points out how John thinks that his wife is incompetent. John also refers to her as a “little girl” which is the exact attitude that he takes when dealing with her. He never trusts her to take care of herself, and he does not trust her with the child as he thinks that she is not capable of handling her own child.
Snyder also stresses this point “John’s presence and access to the bedroom is enough to complicate matter and force us to question whether the narrator is indeed writing in secret. What is it, then, to write in a privatized space that is subject to a constant watch? Let us also ask what John’s presence represents, for I would argue that John’s surveillance compromises the integrity of the journal as female writing. Can the journal, for example, exist outside of phallocentric order of language? Is the journal a male text?
If this is indeed the case, John is not only a reader of his own script, but very much its audience– present both in and directly outside of the bedroom” (Snyder, 1999). Snyder stresses over the fact that the narrator does not feel the freedom to write. She is not allowed to write and she continuously hides her writing from her husband in order to prevent him from getting angry. The narrator is clearly afraid of her husband The fear however cannot keep her mind from being free. The narrator cannot shut her thoughts down.
She finds ways to express them and she finds ways to free herself. To her the wallpaper is like a pattern which is the reason for imprisonment of many women. In the beginning she starts seeing a woman behind the wallpaper, trying to get out. She is comparing her life to the one of the woman behind the wallpaper. As time goes by she actually thinks that she is the one stuck behind the newspaper. T he woman behind the newspaper is stuck there behind the jail created by the pattern. The woman and many other women cannot get out at all times, but only during the day when none is around.
The narrator is seeing herself and her various personalities imprisoned. The narrator can only be herself when her watchful husband is not at home. She knows that she can only be have freedom when her husband is not around and so the narrator projects the same situation on her images of the women. Sometime in the duration of her stay in the house the narrator stops perceiving the woman behind the wallpaper as another woman, but perceives her as the woman behind the wallpaper. She then realizes that need to get out from behind the wallpaper and that she needs to get .
She realizes that her husband had imprisoned her and that she has to get out. Towards the end of the story she has already gotten out from behind the wallpaper. She had managed to do it all by herself, and she was adamant not to go back there. This story is a classic example of the exercise of complete authority of men over their women. This story tells you the consequences of a demanding and controlling husband on his wife, who is a frail and submissive woman. She tries to gain her freedom, but has not known the right means which lead to her depression in the first place.
She therefore gets taken ill, possibly depression. Her husband brings her into a house so that she can heal. In reality however, her husband does nothing to consider her feelings. Her complaints about the house not making her feel better go unheeded. She gets a bedroom which is dull and in poor condition. She is confined to it and thus she projects her thoughts on the wallpaper. She soon starts seeing the hideous wallpaper and it’s pattern, behind which a lot of women have been cough. She tries to free them as she sees herself caught behind the wallpaper.
As her last effort before she has to move out of the house, she tries to free the woman behind the wallpaper who is nothing but a projection of her self. She manages to free herself from the pattern, and thus goes into the existence which is not of the practical world. The main thing to wonder in this paper is after she frees herself, she is no longer existing in the same plane as normal sane people. Is that her real personality that she manages to free or is she so damaged form the pressures of the world that she actually loses her mind?