A dysfunctional, paranoid and beautiful mind

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is a very captivating story, it has been published back in the year 1899 by Small & Maynard, Boston, MA. It is written in the first person and it tells a very interesting story about a paranoid schizophrenic woman. The woman doesn’t know much about her mental disorder, her husband John who’s a physician, convinced her not to give it too much thought because it would only bring her pain and aggravate her situation.

The story’s setting is in a beautiful, isolated and perhaps silent house with a delicious garden as described by the protagonist in the following quotes, “ The most beautiful place! It is quite alone standing well back from the road, quite three miles from the village”. “ There is a delicious garden! I never saw such a garden”. It is a beautiful house, but the protagonist feels as if there is something strange about the house. ” I am afraid, but I don’t care — there is something strange about the house — I can feel it “.

Throughout the story, the woman is showing signs of a mental disorder, for instance when she said, “ I didn’t realize for a long time what the thing was that showed behind, that dim sub-pattern, but now I am quite sure it is a woman”. Another sign of her sickness is when she said, “Sometimes I think there are a great many women behind, and sometimes only one, and she crawls around fast, and her crawling shakes it all over”. These hallucinations of hers are getting worse as time goes by, she is continuously losing touch with reality and she knows it because she said, “ It is getting to be a great effort for me to think straight. Just this nervous weakness I suppose”. The woman knows about her disconnection with reality, however, she is trying to figure out what is real and what is not.

“ The faint figure behind seemed to shake the pattern, just as if she wanted to get out. I got up softly and went to feel and see if the paper did move, and when I came back John was awake ”, this is an example from the story about how confusing and in some cases scary paranoid schizophrenia can be. One of the symptoms of this mental disorder is included in its full name, paranoia. The protagonist is showing signs of paranoia when she starts to see her husband who cares for her and is doing everything he can to make her well, as the antagonist of the story. “ The fact is I am getting a little afraid of John.He seems very queer sometimes ”, this is an example of how despite her husband best efforts to shield her and care for her, she often sees him as an oppressor.

The protagonist has a mental disorder, her husband is a physician trying his best to cure her illness. Her husband is controlling her day to day life, by suppressing some of the pleasures of her life. Such as when he prevents her from visiting friends and family, and even prevents her from going outside in order to improve her health. Some readers may judge the husband on the way he handles the situation, they may think the husband is patronizing his wife.  In some ways, those readers would be right, because of how the husband often ignores what his wife thinks and tells her he knows best because he’s a physician. Those readers would also be wrong in some ways because a physician job is to tell their patients what to do on a day to day basis for them to get better.

 

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