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A Look into the Life of Charlotte Perkins Gilman and "the Yellow Wall-Paper"

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"The Yellow Wall-paper" is an amazing story that demonstrates how close-minded the world was a little over a hundred years ago. In the late eighteen hundreds, women were seen as personal objects that are not capable of making a mark in the world. If a woman did prove to be a strong intellectual person and had a promising future, they were shut out from society. Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote her stories from experience, but added fictional twists along the way to make her stories interesting.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman grew up in a broken home without the presence of her father. Charlotte eventually moved away from her home with her mother and sister. Charlotte tried to keep in contact with her father, but he did not want any part of the contact. Being rejected by her father, and not receiving any affection from her cold-hearted mother set the tone for the way she would live her life.

After one failed marriage with a child, Charlotte did not believe that there was much left for her. Charlotte took her emotions and construed them into a positive thing, her writing. Just like the woman in the story, "The Yellow Wall-paper", Charlotte was sick. The doctors prescribed the "rest cure" for Charlotte. This prescription meant that she had to stay in bed for weeks on end, and had to limit her intellectual activities (Gilman 831). Charlotte was also instructed to live as much of a domestic life as she could. The doctors and her husband wanted her to stay home to cook, clean, and tend to their child. Staying in your own house, in your own bed for that long of a time would drive any person the slightest bit of crazy. During this time is when Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote, "The Yellow Wall-paper".

"The Yellow Wall-paper" portrays realism in its finest. Realism is defined as the representation in art or literature of objects, actions, or social conditions as they actually are, without idealization or presentation in abstract form ( It must have been easy for Charlotte to write this literary work. Not only did Charlotte have all the time in the world, but she was also a feminist (Hudak). When a person has enough time, and a just cause, wonderful literary works can happen. There is no better way to get emotions, ideas, and worries out into society than writing about what you believe in. This story is almost an autobiographical account of Charlotte Perkins Gilman's life. Charlotte suffered from years of continuous nervous breakdowns and depression. Charlotte had to stay in her home all day every day (Suess). Being secluded from the outside world, and having nothing to do made the home feel like a prison. The similarities between the main character of, "The Yellow Wall-paper" and Charlotte Perkins Gilman are uncanny. There is a lot of room for analysis within this story. Almost every line of this story can be picked apart to find hidden, yet important meanings.

"If a physician of high standing, and one's own husband, assures friends and relatives that there is really nothing the matter with one but temporary nervous depression--a slight hysterical tendency--what is one to do?" (Gilman 833). It seems that Gilman picked the occupation of a doctor for the woman's husband and brother to make it seem like they were superior to not just her, but all women (Snyder). The men had the power to tell her what was right and what was wrong, despite of it being her own body. While laying in her bed, the woman can not help but stare at the unsightly wallpaper that is all around her. "One of those sprawling flamboyant patterns committing every artistic sin. 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 contradictions. The color is repellent, almost revolting; a smoldering unclean yellow, strangely faded by the slow-turning sunlight" (Gilman 834). The particular color of yellow in the story, according to one of my art teachers represents inferiority, strangeness, cowardice, and ugliness. All of these adjectives can so easily be used in the story of "The Yellow Wall-paper". Even though Charlotte Perkins Gilman did not suffer from hallucinations during her depression phases, she can relate to the character in the story very well. To save herself from staring at the unsightly walls, the woman writes down all of her thoughts in secret. "We have been here two weeks, and I haven't felt like writing before, since that first day" (Gilman 834). In a sense, both Charlotte Perkins Gilman and the main character of this particular story are writing down their thoughts into stories to stay sane; all the while they are staring into the face of insanity themselves.

"On a pattern like this, by daylight, there



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