Trapped… in the Yellow Wallpaper

Charlotte Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” is a prime example of naturalism. She actually wrote this story to prove how destructive it was treating women with post-partum depression they way society believed was correct. In the story the unnamed women, was diagnosed with depression by her physician who was also her husband. He as well as other doctors in this time period believed that the best way to treat depression was for the patient to rest and have little human contact.

For the narrator, this meant that her husband took her to a large house in the country and basically left her they’re with his sister. Jane, the sister-in-law, was going to act as the maid. We learn that she isn’t supposed to be writing, for it might make her to tired. Elsa, has a secret. She has been hiding her journal from her husband and sister-in-law. This represents that she feels like she not only needs to hide her thoughts and feelings but that she also does not trust anyone.

When Gilman released her story people were horrified! They couldn’t believe that treating the woman’s “depression” only made her worse. She says, “ I’ve got out at last in spite of you and Jane. And I’ve pulled off most of the paper, so you can’t put me back” (Gilman 697) She feels so lonely and depressed that she thinks she has become an imaginary women stuck inside the wallpaper. In her mind the only way to set herself free is to tear down the paper and run.

Thanks to Gilman, society acted on her message and began to reshape how they treated depression. No longer were patients forced to stay alone in bed. Doctors were soon advising their patients to get up and do things. Support groups formed so that people could talk about their thoughts and feelings with others. Gilman showed that because the narrator had no society around her at all, it caused her to lose her mind. She could not escape her treatment, everyday becoming trapped with in the walls of the yellow wallpaper. Gilman changed the way the doctors treated depression for good.

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Hero or Not?

Dick Owens has fallen deeply in love with Miss Charity Lomax. But like so many love stories in the past, Charity wants more from her man. She wants Dick to be heroic. Charity wants Dick to prove that he is heroic enough to help a slave earn his freedom. Dick tells Charity that he would do anything for her. Charity doesn’t believe Dick and tells him, “Seeing’s believing.”

So now to prove to Charity that he is brave, he decides to plan a trip north and take a slave with him as a “ body guard.” Using this cover Dick’s dad willing abides. Now the first thing I see wrong with Dick so-called “heroism” is that it’s for the wrong reason. He is not doing this to help a slave from the goodness of his heart; he is doing this to prove to some girl that he is good enough for her. The second thing I noticed was that he didn’t take a slave that wants to leave. His first choice is to take Tom a slave he knew would want to run away. Although his father does not allow Dick to take Tom because, he knows that Tom is untrustworthy. Instead his father wants him to bring Grandison. Grandison does not seem to want to leave the plantation. Mr. Owens even tells Grandison, “And if you please your master Dick, he ‘ll buy you a present, and a string of beads for Betty to wear when you and she get married in the fall.”

I find it sort of an ironic situation that Grandison and Dick find themselves in. If they both return home, then Dick will not prove to Charity he is a hero, but if only Dick returns home he will impress Charity but that means Grandison will have to give up everything. Doesn’t seem too heroic to me. Grandison becomes very frustrated will all the abolitionists, and wants to go back home. Dick finally just has to run away from Grandison so that when he comes home Charity will marry him. Chesnutt has almost put the two characters in each other’s shoes, normal in a story like this the slave runs away to be with the women he loves.

When Dick lies to- Charity what he has done she is shocked, “Oh, Dick,” she had said with shuddering alarm, “what have you done? If they knew it they ‘d send you to the penitentiary, like they did that Yankee.” Now she feels trapped, “You know I never dreamed of any such outrageous proceeding. But I presume I ‘ll have to marry you.” After everything he has done she stills doesn’t seem to really love him, hero or not?