The Woman in The Wallpaper vs The Actual Woman

The Yellow wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is a tale of a woman fighting her madness. She[For the purpose of distinction we’ll call her Mary] believes there is a woman inside the wallpaper and ultimately becomes obsessed with wanting to ‘free her’. I saw the woman inside the wallpaper as the part of Mary that was actually trapped in marriage. ‘Mary’ in the beginning thought John was loving and meant well, at this moment the woman in the wallpaper didn’t exist, if anything ‘Mary’ hated the wallpaper and didn’t even want to live in the room. As her madness manifested and she became more obsessed with the wallpaper she imagined there was a woman who was there trapped, she also saw many women outside her window who ‘creep around’ and thought them to have walked out of the wallpaper. At this point she found John to be annoying.

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. 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….. John does not know how much I really suffer. He knows there is no reason to suffer, and that satisfies him

‘Mary’ begins to realize John isn’t exactly the nicest person. The woman on the other hand, since it is now that  ‘Mary’ noticed her existence, would be the side of her that wouldn’t notice this neglect but rather see it as ‘Mary’ being the reason why John doesn’t spend much time home anymore.

 

I wonder if they all come out of that wallpaper as I did?

This was the most interesting moment, in  my opinion, when the women was no longer ‘She’ but rather became ‘I’. Hence sparking my interest in writing from the so-called woman’s point of view. I didn’t see the woman as an actual physical being but rather the quarreling side of ‘Mary’; the one who wanted to remain in her barrier [wallpaper]. The way I see it the woman is probably just as intrigued by ‘Mary’ as she was by her in the actual story. I felt the woman wasn’t the personification of  ‘Mary’s’ madness but rather her sanity, the madness was ‘Mary’ herself.  The woman didn’t go through the same emotions that ‘Jane’ did but rather saw them happening from the sidelines and found them rather foolish and possibly wished it wasn’t happening. I felt the woman should be both intrigued and intimidated by the madness that was taking over ‘Jane’.

The woman in the wallpaper was the part of ‘Mary’ that was bound by the conforms of society at that time. This story was written in 1899 and women still didn’t have a sense of individuality without men (their husbands). Being that there was a part of her she saw in the wallpaper and frantically tried freeing it can be seen in two ways; the wallpaper woman didn’t want to be freed or didn’t feel like she needed to be freed. In my retelling the wallpaper woman was pretty much powerless she was able to voice her thoughts but couldn’t  anything to control the events nor did she have the capability of reigning the madness. The madness through her eyes was an ugly thing that was taking over ‘Mary’s’ body and literally spilling out of her (into her speech, her journal, and her overall demeanor.) She (the woman) wasn’t pleased with this and though she was powerless she did give her insight about certain things that happened in the actual story. I kept the woman’s periphery limited to what a person would see standing against the wall without moving. She, just like ‘Mary’, wasn’t able to discern the others thoughts and everything was judged by examination. The woman was a threat to ‘Mary’ and vice versa. Think of those movie/tv show scenes where they show your reflection talking back to you and voicing it’s opposition, the reflection wasn’t some supernatural occurrence and nor did you imagine it but rather it was a personification of your inner voice; sometimes you can ignore it and sometimes it can become louder and overcome your will. Standing at a crossroad in life where you have to pick whether you want to continue on the path you were originally on or whether you want to deviate from it is a hard decision to make. There’s always going to be a part of you that is eager to accept the change and there’s going to be a part of you that is reluctant. You battle between these two choices until own dominates the other. In this case, I feel the original story was this inner battle woven within the psychological issue ‘Mary’ became sick from. The madness showcased in the retelling however was not the possible psychological problem of ‘Mary’s’ but rather the desire to break conformity. The woman saw this to be a threatening ugly thing that was slowly creeping out of ‘Mary’ and she didn’t like it one bit.

I kept the original ending of the story because in both point of views these two opposing sides become one after the wallpaper/barrier was broken. It seemed wrong to change any of that so I left it the way it was. The ending was what ties both point of views together and makes them one it also showcases that both the woman and ‘Mary’ are actually the same person. To change it would give the story a different meaning and give you the sense that there was an actual woman.

You can obviously see this story in another way. You would perhaps think that the woman wanted to be free but didn’t have the means to do so but then ‘Mary’s’ madness wouldn’t have shaped itself the way it did. Or, the woman could have just been a figment of her imagination instead of a personification of the side of her that opposed to her desire to escape. This was just the way I read the story and what I thought was happening.

The Woman

The Yellow Wallpaper

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