Behind The Yellow Wallpaper: Women and Mental Illness

Though contextually deviant from one another, the voices of “Professions for Women” and “The Yellow Wallpaper” both accept the exact same themes: the potential imagination and splendor of the female mind, and the injustice a woman must conquer to understand this capacity. While also detailing her personal battle in the field of composing, Virginia Woolf attends to the obstacles a female deals with in her path to mental unity, namely the burden of men and the female disposition to succumb to it. Charlotte Gilman depicts this struggle as a real circumstance, as the storyteller of “The Yellow Wallpaper” discovers herself pitted straight versus both her own mental affliction and the oppression of men, much as a Roman Gladiator would deal with the lions. Sadly, the storyteller can not overcome her individual “Angel of your home” as Woolf had; the barriers decimate and devour her will and peace of mind. While Woolf kills her personal demons, the storyteller of “The Yellow Wallpaper” faces her own, and loses.

Seen by Woolf as some sort of abnormality, the hindering aspects of the female mind come standard with the birth of a woman. Woolf takes these factors, and balls them up into what she calls the “Angel of your house”: a semi-conscience, present in the mind of a woman as an entity itself, controling its host’s ideas and actions based upon social expectations. Divulging that the Angel of the House’s “purity was expected to be her chief beauty-her blushes, her terrific grace,” Woolf depicts the Angel as a production of the expectation of a lady, the appeal and grace and physical appearance anticipated of an ideal female. Finding that she requires to rid herself of this inhibition in order to compose, Woolf discovers the strength of mind and will power needed to destroy her ghosts. Conversely, Gilman’s storyteller has her imagination and intellect removed from her by her husband and can not combat her illness through cleverness and strength of mind.

These battles-Woolf against her “Angel of your home” and the Gilman’s narrator against her impediments-juxtapose physically various yet strikingly familiar opponents. Gilman’s storyteller, in contrast to Woolf’s, possesses a disease of anxiety from the beginning, making her mind susceptible to both her mental satanic forces and her other half’s undeviating oppression. Offering the factor for John’s officiousness, as the storyteller informs that” [John] says that with my creative power and routine of story-making, a worried weakness like mine makes certain to cause all manner of exited fancies,” she shows his unintentional yet imperious nature, that he thinks her own creativity and imagination present not only a limitation to the alleviation of her condition however also a cause of her depression. Fettering her liberty of mind, John breeds the parasite, the devils, currently within her mind, and leaves her unprotected. As Woolf tells us, “It is far harder to eliminate a phantom than a truth,” she notes that dispatching a mental challenger does not happen by merely adjusting reality, yet John follows not this guidance. By by force producing a place lacking diversion for his spouse to rest in, in essence the cell in which she lives, John creates a nest for her mental devils, permitting them to grow and fester in her head, gnawing and clawing at her mind till she loses control, becoming ridiculous. In this circumstance, the injustice of males that Woolf information aids and abets the “Angel of your home”, thus it generates a determined, powerful challenger to the female mind.

Though the narrator enables her conditions to run widespread through her mind, Woolf supplies some approaches for conquering her own challenges, along with those of other females. Arraigning males as unable to “understand or … control the extreme severity with which the condemn such freedom in women,” she points to men as one of the inhibitors of ladies, yet does not hold them truly responsible for their actions. Just as women included the “Angel of your home” configured into beneficiary minds, so to do men with their intrinsic need to assert themselves over the opposite sex. Due to the fact that males can not “realize … or control” this prehistoric sense of domination, ladies should not hold them in contempt, however take effort and repair things for themselves. Gilman’s narrator can not resolve her own issues, as John has actually left her literally fettered, and the reader should witness with misery her descent into a state less than human. Woolf reveals us that these issues will not be dealt with via overlook, but rather from direct action on the part of the victim.

“The Yellow Wallpaper” does not overtly offer advice as that seen in Woolf’s essay, however it does provide an example of the lessons therein. The story shows the level to which a female’s mind can decay, if not properly cared for and attended to. Gilman likewise expounds upon the role of males in the state of the female spirit, as they can easily corrupt and condemn members of the opposite sex. Nevertheless, both stories confer an underlying sense of optimism. Questioning the role John’s assertiveness played in his spouse’s demise, the reader needs to consider that John could have assisted his partner when she clearly required somebody, rather of condemning her to the jail of a bedroom as he selects to do. Similarly, Woolf demonstrates how one female, completely independent, can amend her own bothersome situation. The female mind can exist at the same time splendidly, colorfully creative, and vulnerable, unstable, requiring consistent presence. It is worth defending.

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