Through John’s Eyes
It is now the summer, John and his wife move to a beautiful home. As they begin to settle down the wife believes that the house is haunted while John believes it’s just nonsense. Since John is a physician he took it upon himself to nurse his wife who had taken sick, so it is up to him to use his expertise to help her regain her health as long as she continues to take her phosphates and rests. The use of phosphate will provide her with more energy through the day. Her brother has maintained the same profession as John. He also agrees with him that his sister is not well. John insists that he does not want her writing in that silly little journal she has, it’s a big distraction. She begs to differ as “This dead paper and a great relief to my mind) — perhaps that is one reason I do not get well faster” (page 1, paragraph 7). Without her writing, there’s a big chance she may take longer to recover.
By being stuck in the house all the day, the wife cannot do anything but just wonder as she responds “I sometimes fancy that in my condition if I had less opposition and more society and stimulus – but John says the very worst thing I can do is to think about my condition, and I confess it always makes me feel bad” (page 1, paragraph 14). The wife believes that she was more in touch with the world instead of hidden inside a house. John on the other hand believes being worried will make things worse. John seems like he wants only wants the best for her.
The new house they just move into makes the wife very uneasy as she says “there is something strange about the house — I can feel it [‘I even said so to John one moonlight evening but he said what I felt was a draught, and shut the window’]” (page 1 paragraph 20-21). It seems as though every time the wife attempts to start a conversation with John, she gets shut down. As John remains as the dominate form in the relationship, the wife must obey him “You may not do any type of work while your ill, I will come check on you after I am finish with work”. John takes on the role as the leader of the relationship. But as the famous saying before during the marriage ceremony “for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish” he has been there for his wife and he has stuck to his word.
John may truly love his wife but he will not tolerate a case of foolishness as it states “I don’t like our room a bit. I wanted one downstairs that opened on the piazza and had roses all over the window, and such pretty old-fashioned chintz hangings! But John would not hear of it” (page 1, paragraph 24). Here to improve the house, the wife makes a suggestion that in order for her to even feel comfortable in the house it requires some decorations. John on the other believes it should stay the way it is and doesn’t require change. This issue escalates to where the wife argues “I get unreasonably angry with John sometimes I’m sure I never get used to be so sensitive. I think it is due to this nervous condition” (page 1, paragraph 22). The wife has witness that she is being unfairly but forgives him for the way he is, because her condition seems to be so serious.
In “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman in 1899 is told in a first person autodiegetic narration with the main character that strangely doesn’t have name. Guided by her husband John who believes she is truly sick doesn’t want her to lift a finger in the house. All he wants her to do is rest and take her medication on a daily basis and soon after she will regain her health back. Although in the story the wife is portrayed ill throughout the story by the influence of her husband John his concern for her health is overshadowed by his character of over protectiveness and ability of controlling her. It seems like every time the main character tried to talk to her husband he would just ignore any ideas or objections she had. Though the story is told through the main characters eyes, in the retelling you get a better sense of who John really is, as he does love his wife, but the way he’s dealing with the situation of her writing as a bad thing is the wrong way.
Even though John is a physician the wife escape is through writing as she explains that “this is a dead paper and a great relief to my mind – perhaps that is one reason I do not get well faster”( page 1 paragraph 7). Writing in the wife’s eyes is a sense of belonging. That even though she may be “sick” she has something she actually wants to do and that she enjoys it. But, in John’s eyes it seems as a way of rebellion and power. During these times, women rarely got an education, so by her knowing to read and write gave her a sense of independence. But being in a marriage there is no room for independence as the wife and husband is one. Therefore, but telling his wife that she could no longer write, increased his controlling streak as he managed to keep her in the house all day and had her on medication daily.
Going further into the story it seems as the main character and her husband disagree tremendously because just on the page alone every disagreement that has taken place the husband has won each argument. As the main character starts to express herself “I get unreasonably angry with John sometimes I’m sure I never used to be so sensitive. I think it is due to this nervous condition” (page 1 paragraph 22). The main character has finally realized that she hasn’t been getting her way whether it has to do with the wallpaper or the house itself or even trying to change rooms, John has shot down every request she’s had. But then again, she believes that John is just worried about her and starts to believe that she’s actually sick. Once again John has managed to even convince his wife that her writing has her life corrupt and in order to stop the corruption she must stop writing.
As John says “You may not do any type of work while your ill, I will come check on you after I am finish with work”. This shows that he has a job that requires a lot of commitment, meaning he is not home very often, so now the wife is alone at home and she has no connection with the outside world. It seems that John doesn’t want his wife to go anywhere he doesn’t know, it seems that he’s a little afraid of what she may become. It’s obvious that she has potential so I believe he might be threatened.
As the wife remains in the house she observes that “there is something strange around the house – I can feel it/ I even said so to John one moonlight evening but he said what I felt was a draught, and shut the window”(page 1 paragraph 20-21). The main character has finally wanted to talk to her husband about a serious issue and he just brushes it off. She expresses her feelings about the house that she felt uncomfortable and he just blames it on the wind that is outside. It seems that John doesn’t take her very seriously as if she were a child.
Another suggestion the wife decides to bring up was “I don’t like out room a bit. I wanted one downstairs that opened on the piazza and had roses all over the window, and such pretty old-fashioned chintz hangings! But John would not hear of it” (page 1, paragraph 24). The wife doesn’t like the room because it is very plain so, she believes that it requires some change and she had ideas of how to decorate it to her liking. But, John doesn’t like the idea of change and wants it to stay the same.
Overall, I believe that in the original story most people would see John as a charismatic, hard-working man who is just looking after his wife. But in the retelling some people might change their minds and see the true him which is a controlling and overprotective man who doesn’t let him wife anything that she loves. There is no doubt that John loves his wife in both stories but it seems that he knows exactly how to be a physician but he doesn’t seem that he knows that much on how to be a good husband.