I found the story to be really captivating. I first came upon this title because I’m doing a research paper on the history of childbirth, mainly focusing on the 18th and 19th century. I’m doing a chapter on postpartum depression, and came upon this story while doing some research.
Post partum depression wasn’t really diagnosed in that time ,as it is now. While reading this story I felt frustrated, and a bit sad to know that a perfectly common occurrence after birth was looked upon as a woman being tired or with slight hysteria. The remedy ranged from tepid baths to rest.
I think that in that time, society had such strict roles for all. Women especially, were to be the embodiment of poise and femininity. She was expected to marry and have children and to carry out her role in perfection.
The notion that she was not able to be fragile or come undone is claustrophobic and horrible within itself. It seems that her husband didn’t give her the chance to truly talk about what she was feeling and instead decided to take matter into his own hands by treating her like a chid and suggesting that she rest and think of pleasant things. She felt overwhelmed and frustrated.
“I get unreasonably angry with John sometimes. I’m sure I never used to be so sensitive.”
“But John says if I feel so, I shall neglect proper self control; so I take pains to control myself – before him, at least, and that makes me very tired.
The fact that she states that it took great pain to control herself, but that she did and most likely in front of him goes to show how little men or society could deal with any type of hysteria from a woman. I could see how she must have felt so exhausted from battling this depression, and most especially exhausted from hiding it from her husband.
I couldn’t imagine being in a time in which I wouldn’t be able to speak my mind or discomforts to those around me. How suffocating and sad that would be. It would be enough to drive anyone crazy.