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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