ENGL 1302 Sec N07
1 March 2018
The Miserable Truth That Builds on the Hallucination
—Women’s Subordinate Role in “The Yellow Wallpaper”
Human is the product of time. Human’s thought, consciousness, and behavior are inseparable from the times. During the late nineteenth-century, women suffered from the ideology of separate spheres and the rash of hysteria (Wilson 283); they were in a subordinate position of men, and the era's high-pressure social environment tended to grip the women’s throat so that they could merely ‘crawl' for advance. Living in a similar society where patriarchy is being widely practiced, the narrator of the "The Yellow Wallpaper" inevitably becomes a victim of that specific time. To preserve her ego from being affected by the time, the narrator loses the balanced relationship with her husband in an emotional breakdown; however, she crazily gains the freedom of liberation. With the aim of displaying a microcosm of the women’s subordinate role in the nineteenth-century, the author of "The Yellow Wallpaper," Charlotte Gilman, shows the changing relationship between the couple and depicts the narrator's mental condition differences by constructing the plot subtly. Gilman further uncovers the miserable fate of the nineteenth-century women by closely comparing the narrator’s experience with the insane woman behind the wallpaper.
The story's exposition begins with the narrator's experience of rest cure in a grand colonial mansion with her husband, John, during the summertime. Readers can find potential conflicts between the narrator and John as the inciting incident. John strictly controls the narrator's creative and intelligent activities because he thinks the narrator has the symptom of hysteria, but the narrator considers John does not truly understand her illness and condition. As a result, the narrator shows suspicion of her husband, for instance, she believes, “John is a physician, and perhaps…that is one reason I do not get well faster" (Gilman 673). In dealing with the conflict and suspicion with her husband, the narrator reacts helplessly. However, even though the narrator is in such a dilemma, she persists in writing. For example, she makes detailed descriptions of the beautiful surrounding of the mansion in a relatively excited and positive way. Nonetheless, the descriptions of the room at the top of the house show her worries and indicate her feeling of uncomfortableness regarding the room. For instance, she mentions, "… the windows are barred for children, and there are rings and things in the walls" (Gilman 674). What is more, she responds to the existence of the yellow wallpaper as “I never saw a worse paper in my life” (Gilman 674). It suggests that the narrator has a negative feeling about the wallpaper at the very beginning of her cure, and this external factor is indeed a mental disaster waiting to happen.
As the plot develops, the deteriorating relationship between the...