Things that lead to the madness of the woman

In the story of “The Yellow Paper” written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, it is basically telling a woman who had slight depression after the postpartum, after that she was taken to an elite housing located in a village for a therapy by her husband. Her husband is a physician which practical in the extreme. He placed her into room which full with the ugly yellow wallpaper. She was separated from her child, she was not allowed to leave the house, she was not allowed to write or to do anything she liked. She can only face the yellow all day long, eventually she began to see illusion and thought there was a woman hidden behind the yellow wallpaper, she ripped off all yellow wallpaper to save the woman behind which was actually an illusion and totally became insane.

In the first page, paragraph six, the narrator said “John is practical in the extreme. He has no patience with faith, an intense horror of superstition.” Through this sentence we can actually see that the woman’s husband was actually full of male chauvinism, he thought everything he did to his wife was correct, but he did not know it was too much for his wife. He actually restricted the freedom of his wife. The author also mentioned that “If a physician of high standing, and one’s own husband, assures friends and relatives that there is really nothing the matter with one but temporary nervous depression — s alight hysterical tendency.” He forced his wife to take the treatment in the way he wanted, however, his wife did not want to take it but she did not want to go against with her husband.

She was actually placed in a beautiful house located in the village. However, her husband thought she needed the perfect rest and put her into a nursery on the top of the house. In the room, there was nothing but some ugly yellow wallpaper, just like the author said, “the color is repellent, almost revolting; a smouldering unclean yellow, strangely faded by the slow-turning sunlight.” The woman was not allowed to go out or do anything she liked but just facing these yellow wallpaper, she already had a slight hysterical tendency, and now this way would make it worse. She could not relax herself with restricting in such situation, she would just get more depress after all.

At the end of the story, the woman ripped off all yellow wallpaper to release another woman which had the similar situation as she did, unfortunately that was just an illusion from her mind, there was never a woman hidden behind the yellow wallpaper. She was obliged by her husband and lost her freedom, and then she came up with an illusion of hidden woman behind the yellow wallpaper, and she was going to save her from there. However, all these was what she desired from her husband, she did not want to be treated like this. All these feelings were put in the last two paragraph of the story, “I’ve got out at last,” said I, “in spite of you and Jane. And I’ve pulled off most of the paper, so you can’t put me back!” Too much depressions coming across her mind, and finally got her freedom, unfortunately she was already insane at this period, and all these was because of her husband, always be practical in extreme and treat his wife in the correct way he thought, finally lead to the madness of the woman.

7 thoughts on “Things that lead to the madness of the woman

  1. Jordan JP

    Hello Terry, I understand what you’re saying about the wallpaper story in your blog, I think it’s a fascinating way of looking at it, however, I disagree with most of your statements. One of such statement is when you said you saw the woman’s husband was full of male “chauvinism” and when you said she went insane because of her husband. I think the husband was doing his best to help his wife get well, he cared for her, shielded her and medicated her every single day as a husband and physician should do, instead of leaving her to fend for herself. The techniques he used needed improvement, I think we can agree on that, but you need to realize the husband was a physician in the late 1800’s, he probably didn’t know how to properly treat his wife’s illness. He probably was only doing what he thought and was thought is best.

    1. Terry_L Post author

      Thank you for your good comment here, Jordan! Maybe I was too strict on the things John did for his wife, but there is no doubt that John is conceited on some points, in the middle of the story, the woman realized that she was getting worse and found a chance to tell John that she wants to leave already, John did not listen to her and still confirmed that she was getting better based on his personal opinion. I think I still missed a point, the woman also had some constraint from the old society and afraid to talk to her husband about how exactly she felt for her current body condition, here makes me think about male “chauvinism” , finally she chose to follow her husband’s order and stay in the depressing nursery room, that lead to her psychosis. Her husband may not know how to treat her wife properly, but at least he should listen to his wife a little, but not just always ask her to follow instead.

  2. Daniel

    I think that her husband was insensitive and conceited.
    “Then he took me in his arms and called me a blessed little goose, and said that he would go down to the cellar if I wished, and have it whitewashed into the bargain”
    …….O.K………so replace/ paint over the wallpaper instead!…….which was already torn off in sections…….who needed or asked him to go down to the cellar?

    1. Adrian

      I agree that the husband should have done something about the wallpaper in the beginning. But instead he glossed over it and ignored her plead. She wanted to go downstairs but told her to remain upstairs; where she constantly has to look at the awful room.

  3. Jordan JP

    Yes Adrian, I also agree, the husband should have done something about the wallpaper, it would have at least made her feel better or more appreciated. You should also know that it wouldn’t have changed much in his wife’s illness, if he fixed or painted over the walls, the woman would have found something else to project her unhappiness to. It doesn’t matter what color the walls are, because the walls are not the problem, her mind is.

    1. Terry_L Post author

      Yes, Jordan, her mind is the main problem, however, the environment around her would make it worse,too. It is not that easy to project her unhappiness by placing her in such a depressing room. Her husband misunderstands on this and never listen to his wife for once, this makes her condition even worse.


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