Generally, when people write, they tend to reflect and exteriorize their feelings. Even when writing fiction, men always write under certain inspiration that permits them to transmit the actual situation they are living on. Charlotte Perkins Gilman not only wrote a fantastic story on “The Yellow Wall-paper”, she was so explicit about her situation that today readers believe she was writing her autobiography. “The Yellow Wall-paper” is a shocking story about men’s oppression over women and the unintended effect on their psychological life. In the book, Gilman describes her position on society through the story of a miserable woman diagnosed with hysteria; this disease was considered a women’s disease caused by the excessive usage of intellect. Gilman created a feminist writer who was not completely convinced of her diagnosis and tried to promptly recover in order to get back to work. The character’s husband on contraire thought she should completely forget about writing. From this situation we can discover that Gilman was being oppressed and taken apart from her talent, or at least that is how she felt.
As of today, Gilman is a known writer; for that reason we know that she was concerned about her loveless relations with her father, mother and daughter. As a feminist she couldn’t understand how her mother could belong and contribute to the anarchist society that degraded women. Her father and husband represented the domineering branch of society, in the book the male branch is represented by her husband who in fact is her doctor. The book states that the main character (we will refer to it as Gilman) is isolated in a house; the few visits she received while she was sick were from people hat exhorted her to stop writing, she was unsupported.
The book is written by means of a journal which Gilman secretly keeps from her husband or doctor. Once again the oppression over her is present; the husband believed that intellectual effort was contributing to his patient’s nervous condition. It is probable that for contemporary women the issue of being subjugated represents a big deal; this is because today women have real freedom. At the time Gilman felt captured by society and she reflects this in her book through the image of the wallpaper.
She escribes the paper as she thinks society is: “It is dull enough to confuse the eye in following, pronounced enough to constantly irritate and provoke study, and when you follow the lame uncertain curves for a little distance they suddenly commit suicide–plunge off at outrageous angles, destroy themselves in unheard of contradictions. ” (Gilman 13). The rejection to these images represents also the anger she feels against the people that maintain her inside the house; she hates not being able to write.
One of the most important factors in the story is the specific reatment that Gilman had to under go while resting in that country house, it was called “rest-cure” which implied not to do anything and specially anything intellectual. She was obligated to rest and not think; of curse she had her husband in command of the situation and her sister in law as her company at home. The transcendence on this is that through the story we can appreciate how Gilman changes in all aspects, she starts loosing common sense and her imagination begins to be overwhelming and uncontrollable.
She goes into an unreal status of creation, she imagines things and she elieves they are real. All the symbolism presented in the wall paper and the figures behind it start to sound like madness. The real cause of these hallucinations is because she was isolated from all community and left alone with people she did not considered important. The oppression over Gilman was about to make her exploit: “There are things in that paper that nobody knows but me, or ever will” (Gilman, 22). Gilman lets us know that she is not completely crazy, on contraire; she is trying not to become so.
The “rest-cure” is driving her crazy but she wouldn’t let it, she is very xplicit: “And it is like a woman stooping down and creeping about behind that pattern. I don’t like it a bit. I wonder–I begin to think–I wish John would take me away from here! “(Gilman, 22). . The woman becomes obsessed with the yellow wallpaper that covers the empty and lonely walls of the room. In the beginning, the wallpaper is her worst enemy, but it finally turns out to be entertainment. Her situation is described constantly through the paper that turns into an evidence of the woman’s increasingly darkening mental state.
She is obsessed with the yellow wallpaper in which she sees frightful patterns and an imprisoned female figure trying to emerge. By writing this book, Gilman is stating a process by which all women of past society endured; she isolated her self in order to be able to write, and by forming this barrier she was at the edge of madness. Juliann E. Fleenor made a literary critique over Gilman’s work and coincidently said: “Female exclusion, women denied the opportunity to work, or their imprisonment behind four walls, led to madness. ” (Fleenor 127).
It is predictable what people have to say about Gilman because she is practically making a biography, the stage is similar to reality and the story almost true. Fleenor supports this idea of madness due to the isolation incurred. “The Yellow Wall-paper” utilizes a lot of metaphors, the paper itself is very important; she describes the paper like bars, as if she were inside of a jail. She identifies a woman behind the wall paper that eventually comes out and creeps all over the room and windows but is always retained by the bars on the wall paper.
If the wall paper represented society and moreover represented the people who have Gilman in the “rest cure” treatment, then the women behind the wallpaper trying to be free is Gilman her self, she feels imprisoned. She states the bad feeling she has against the wall paper form the beginning: “I never saw a worse paper in my life” (Gilman, 13). In the 19th century, Gilman was considered a rebellious person because she wrote against men’s viewpoint and wanted things to change in her society.
The narrator is also an adventurous person because he continues writing her journal even when she knows it is forbidden. Finally, this character also represents the liberation of women in society by breaking the rules stipulated by her husband; that is why it is such a polemic book. The image Gilman exteriorizes is full of desperation, she reflects her willingness to work with every single literary resource she has. She gives life to a simple wall and then imagines things behind that wall; she is not crazy, she is rather anxious.
There is an important part of the text were it clearly states that she started seeing more women creeping around, his means that there are more women like her wanting to get out of the jail of prejudice and start living the way they really want to: “There are so many of those creeping women, and they creep so fast” (Gilman, 35). Perkins is not being accepted the way she is, and that is why she identifies with the creeping girls, moreover she is the first image she saw behind the wall paper. On her way Gloria Biamonte tries to explain the way Gilman works; “Gilman’s fiction represents a panorama of female heroes… “These female haracters vividly bring to life Gilman’s theories, suggesting metaphorically the radical restructuring of society she advocated. ” (Biamonte 138). More than one person believes that Gilman was trying to change the structure of society; she was trying to place women into a new balance with men. Gilman knew men and women were equally capable of doing intellectual work, and she knew she was not sick, she should not be; women cannot be sick for excessive thinking if men are never sick for the same reason. She wrote “The Yellow Wall-paper” to defeat the theory of the “rest- ure”.
She was getting crazy because of the isolation and this time was for real. As a radical feminist she had to do something about it and she did it through “The Yellow Wall-paper”. Gilman’s original intent in writing the story was to gain personal satisfaction from the knowledge that Dr. S. Weir Mitchell might change his treatment, after reading the story. . Another co-related theme found in “The Yellow Wallpaper” is loneliness of women. Gilman feels abandoned and has a need of company. This need is fulfilled by the figures behind the wallpaper of her room.
This search of ntegrating the society is driving her crazy. As she receive no positive answer, she slowly becomes mad with the idea that whatever she does, the society will never accept her as a person with a brain similar to men’s. Gilman considers that talking to the men and trying to be respected by them is like talking to a wall, it does not answer, nor interpret and rarely listen, just like giving a monologue. The depreciation of the value of women in the past society was permanent; some feminists now tend to deviate the principal goal of Gilman.
Today these feminists are so obsessed with he idea of equality that it does not permit them selves to even interact with males. They believe that in every single thing males do, they try to imply certain inferiority on women. Today it is irrational the way these females try to balance situations. Back then Gilman was only asking for an intellectual equity that men were not willing to give. “Male autobiographies on the public, while women write about their personal lives”… “She writes about her public life” (Fleenor 127). Once again Fleenor reflects the anger Gilman had in her riting. The way Gilman explains these concepts of feeling oppressed and in a cage is amazing. She finds out a simple thing as a wall paper and gives it a big significance for her situation; we can even say she personifies the paper and fights against it and she defeats it at the end. As she said she came out of that paper: “I wonder if they all came out of that wall-paper as I did? “(Gilman 54) meaning she is relived from all that tension she had. It is a great story about finding ourselves and letting us be. When a structure works it means all the parts are convinced with that tructure, or at least the majority of the parts.
Gilman reflects through her sister in law and the nanny of her daughter that women were not always like her, they also wanted to be at home and they did not complain about their duties and the fact of being denied to the intellectual world. Gilman could not do anything as a single person; she first had to convince women that they were good enough. Fleenor believes that Gilman found this aversion to her role in her mother’s image, she even fought against that kind of women: “Gilman was working against her own culture’s definition of omen, and her primary antagonist were women like her own mother” (Fleenor 129).
General women made the system work at the beginning, now individuals like Gilman and the shadows behind the wall paper were bringing down the system. The same thing was happening in Gilman’s life. The time was changing and she was becoming one of the most influential women of the century; she was making women think and believe they were as great as men. It is very interesting to see the correlation that existed in the real life of people and their work.
Art has always been an expression of feelings and a via for communication, but is impressive the way the reader can look through a window to the past by only reading a paper that was written in a moment of depression and loneliness, but over all in a moment of absence of love. In this sense the situation of Gilman is indirectly the situation of many women wanting to become all they can be. The oppression of man did not allowed them to be free, but thanks to this starting, we now have what is called an equilibrium, which might not be completed yet, but we are in our way.