A Research Study: The Yellow Wallpaper

the yellow wallpaper

KV RAMA RAO The Yellow Wallpaper- A Dynamic Sign: A Research Study of Charlotte Perkins Oilman’s Story [‘ The Yellow Wallpaper’ was originally released in the January 1892 problem of Afew England Publication. In 1973 the Feminist Press released a reprint of the 1899 variation. Both versions have become popular. The present study is based on the initial text, consisted of in the Gilman MSS’] As a narrative ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ is multidimensional. A sensitive woman’s battle for liberty and flexibility ends up being in the end an effective sign of the feminist struggle for individuality, recognition and equality. The story was wrenched out of Gilman’s own life, and is special in the cannon of her works,” says Elain Hedges (37 ). As a literary masterpiece, the story creates its own significance; it communicates effectively through images and signs. In reality it conveys not one significance but multiple meanings. A few of the styles discussed by the author, apart from the battle for liberty and specific assertion, are– marital relationship, treatment of anxiety patients, the self and the other, issues faced by a woman writer and the issue of interaction.

Subtle and delicate characterization, feigned innocence, understatement and recommendation, recurrent images and growing sjnnbols, intentional misspellings and colorful adjectives are a few of the narrative-techniques used by Gilman in developing a creative masterpiece of poignant psychological depth. Pity runs like an undercurrent throughout the story, which in the end develops into admiration. How a female hungers for freedom to do her thing is discreetly communicated through the dynamic and growing sign of the yellow wallpaper. Half the charm of the story depends on the attitude of ambivalence embraced by the author towards her unnamed protagonist.

The anxiety ailment of the protagonist-narrator deepens as the story advances and she appears to be completely insane in the end; however the interior monologue and the sense of relief and flexibility experienced by her recommend the accomplishment of the questing person. The obstructing male hes vanquished on the flooring and she strolls over him, as it were! Dr KV Rama Rao: Reader in English, SKVT College, Rajahmundry- 533 103. Poetcrit/ 38 T H E YELLOW WALLPAPER– A DYNAMIC SIGN … The story is applauded for the accuracy of its representation and for its delicacy of touch.

One is tempted to call it a ‘Prose Poem’ instead of a short story. In projecting the morbid social scenario of her times in artistic terms, the author rises to great poetic heights. She is Keatsian in her sensuousness, Shakespearean in her spirit and sympathies, Shelley-like in her fiery individuality and idealism and she remembers Edgar Ellen Poe in creating an environment. The Yellow Wallpaper is the story of a lady’s psychological break down, narrated with such exceptional psychological and remarkable precision that William Dean Howells is inclined to describe it as a story to “freeze our …

Today research study concerns itself with the main sign of the Yellow Wallpaper- how it grows with altering subtleties to serve the author’s purpose. The protagonist-narrator (let’s call her Charlotte, since the author doesn’t provide her a name) is a sensitive, imaginative female with a style for composing. She is restricted in a large space in a large home, a summer estate, on a large estate in the name of treatment for ‘worried anxiety’. She is treated by her doctor-husband. She is given ‘phosphates or phosphates, tonics, journeys, air and exercise, however is prohibited to work that is, to write.

She says: Personally I disagree with their concepts. Personally, I believe that congenial work with enjoyment and change would do me good. But what is one to do? (p. 39) There is nobody to listen to her or take care of her ‘individual’ opinions. Her husband looks after her, in a physician’s style, but he doesn’t listen to her. He pets her but he brushes aside all her words about what is good for her. Even in that big mansiori where only two individuals live, she is rejected the room of her choice. Without such choice, states Elain, the woman has been mentally and intellectually violated.

In truth, her husband imparts regret in her. I sometimes expensive that in my condition if I had less opposition and more society and stimulus– but John says the really worst thing I can do is to think of my condition, and I admit it always makes me feel severely” (39-40). Yea, there’s the rub. The very worst thing a lady can do is to ‘believe’, to think of her condition. It makes her a rebel, does not it? So, the partner forbids her thinking. “He is extremely careful and caring”, says the other half, “hardly lets me stir without unique direction.

I have a January 2006/ 39 KV Rama Rao schedule prescription for each hour of the day …” One can not miss the paradox. At another place Charlotte pays another tribute to her other half: John is practical in the extreme. He has no patience with faith, an intense scary of superstition, and he honestly scoffs at any talk of things not to be felt and seen and put down in figures. John is a physician, and periiaps, -1 wouldn’t say it to a person obviously, however this is dead paper, and a great relief of my ntind,– maybe that is one reason I do not recover faster.

Gilman’s design is consistently laconic and suggestive, the above words suggest Oiarlotte’s quote of her spouse, how their characters are poles apart and how she hesitates of the people about her and of her mistrust of him. She composes covertly, confiding her ideas and fancies to the “dead paper” as she puts it; but needing to be so sly about it tires her a good deal. Discussing Gilman’s style Elain Hedges says: “The story is told with scientific precision and visual tact. The curt, sliced sentences, the revity of the paragraphs, which frequently consist of only one or 2 sentences, communicate the tight distraught mental state of the storyteller. The design includes stress: every thing is subtle and understated” (48-49). Prevented creative imagination turns to other channels. Charlotte relies on the Wallpaper and begins to engage herself in studying it. In the beginning it is simply another ‘dead paper’ however gradually acquires life and stirs up her creativity. She starts to relate herself it. The space in which Charlotte was made to live is large and airy with windows on all sides.

According to her, it was a nursery first, then a playroom and gymnasium. The windows are disallowed for little children and there are rings and things in the walls. There is a big repaired bed. The wallpaper has actually been peeled about as far a I can reach …( 41 ). The images of the nursery, the disallowed windows and the repaired bed, the peeled wallpaper are suggestive of the environment of a psychological asylum where a patient is by force confined. Speaking about the yellow wallpaper, Charlotte says: I never saw an even worse paper in my life. One offliosesprawling flamboyant patterns, devoting every creative sin.

It is dull enough to confuse the eye in the following, pronounced enough to continuously aggravate and provoke study, and when you follow the lame unsure curves for little distance they suddenly dedicate suicide– plunge Poetcrit/40 THE YELLOW WALLPAPER- A DYNAMIC SIGN … oflFat outrageous angles, damage themselves in unheard of contradictions” (41 ). The lame uncertain curves committing suicide, ruining themselves in unheard f contradictions is nearly like a metaphysical conceit obliquely suggestive of the condition of females. These are not words usually used to describe wallpaper– great, bad or awful.

Referring to the repellant yellow color, ‘strangely faded by the low-tumiog sua’, Cterlotte states that there is no surprise the kids hated it. She ought to hate it herself if she had to hve-in that room long. This is her very first oteraration about and very first reaction to the yellow wallpaper– one of the repulsion and hatred. But later on, she grows so found of it that she can not live without watching and moving patterns and in the end she recognizes herself with the woman moving behind the wallpaper. A little later she says: “This paper looks to me as if it KNEW what a vicious influence it had! (42 ). The dead wallpaper has actually come alive for Charlotte and it has power to infiuence her; and it ‘knows’ its power and it conveys the truth that it understands! “1 never saw so much expression in an inanimate thing before” (43 ). Describing the wallpaper, a little later, she says it “sticketh” closer than a sibling– they need to have had perseverance as well as hatred”. Jennie, the maid, John’s sis and John himself visit her periodically and she conceals her writing as well as her sensations from them. Anyway they do not comprehend. Days pass.

Routine enjoying and studying of the yellow wallpaper makes Charlotte aware of an indistinct sub-pattern behind the dominant yellow pattern and she likewise sees “an odd provoking formless sort of figure that seems to skulk about behind that ridiculous and obvious front design” (43 ). John brings the femily to celebrate the fourth of July, since he feels that business will do her some great. But this company tires her. She is denied the stimulating business of her literary peers who can exchange ideas with her. Charlotte gets fretful. She sobs at nothing, weeps the majority of the time not when John exists, however when she is alone. I am getting actually fond of the space in spite of the wallpaper. Maybe since of the wallpaper! It stays in my mind so!” (44 ). Lying down on the bed she tries to follow the pattern– “… and I determine, for the thousandth time, that I will follow that meaningless pattern January 2006/ 41 KV Rama Rao to some sort of a conclusion.” These words betray her vain attempts to find a significance to life. A lot of women’s lives are meaningless patterns; there is no satisfiictory conclusion. Charlotte feels happy that her child is well, that the child is not made to view this nursery with this yellow wallpq)er. “… ut I keep watch of it all the same,” she states, “There are things because paper that nobody knows but me, or ever will. Behind that outside pattern the dim shapes get clearer every day. It is constantly the very same shape, only very various. And it’s like a woman stooping down, and creeping about behind the pattern” (46 ). The prophetic vision of the author Gihnan mean the possibility of women gathering in great deals to attain their goals– “the dim shapes get clearer every day; it is always the very same shape, just extremely various.” The figure of the stooping female will become set up and assertive. One night

John was sleeping and I disliked to waken him, so I kept still and watched the moonlight on that undulating wallpaper tiil it made me scary. The faint figure behind seemed to shake the pattern simply as if she wished to go out. I got up softly and went to feel and see if the paper did move, and when I returned John was awake” (46 ). Wth so hiany windows on all the four walls, the space offered an excellent chance for the sun and the moon to create various times of the day and night, and appropriately the peeled-ofF, lurid yellow wallpaper played on the imagination of Charlotte. Now the female in the sub-pattern appears to be trying to go out. ^ t h these words author includes another dimension to the symbolic significance of the wallpaper as the oppressor of lady, that is, the society. She wants to come out of the injustice. One marked peculiarity about this paper, according to Charlotte, is that ‘it changes as the light changes.” “During the night, in any type of ligjit, in golden, candle light, lamp light, and worst of all by moon light– it becomes bars! The outdoors pattern, I indicate. And the lady behind is as plain as can be” (47 ). These words are a clear declaration of the author about woman– the woman lags the bars developed by the society!

As days pass, Charlotte becomes possessive about the wallpaper. Poetcrit/ 42 T H E YELLOW W A L P A P E R– A DYNAMIC SIGN … She does not like John and maid Jennie either to view or to touch the paper. Now it is her home. It offers her hope, an intriguing and absorbing activity to anticipate– viewing i3xs pattern and learning whether the lady bdund the pattern will prosper in coming out. Her app! bs in: q; roves, she consumes better and she is much peaceful Even John is happy ivith her. Charlotte feel sure that the outer pattern relocations; because the lady behind shakes it so. the lady sneaks. Charlotte has hallucinations. She fancies she sees females everywhere, in the garden, on the road, in the open coxmtry. The incipient insanity becomes more pronoimced when she likewise starts t creep, v/hea nobody sees her. She always locks the door when she sneaks by golden (50 ). Now the female in the sub-pattern becomes her design, worthwhile of imitation. Charlotte chooses tofi”eethe lady behind, by tearing oflFthe top pattern. In the last 2 days of their stay, she eliminates the paper bit b bit. Her other half and the housemaid begin to presume her. But she pretends to be in exceptional health and great spirits.

She sends out the house maid away and removes all the paper. She locks herself up in the space and tltfows the key through the window into the front path. She does not wish to be disrupted, up until John comes. She enjoys to be in that bare room, creeping. S ^ ie sees numerous females sneaking outside. “I question if they all came out of that wallpaper, as I did? “Now the recognition is total. Her insanity too is conq)lete. “I expect I will have to get back behind the pattern when comes night, and it is hard! “When her husband knocks at the door, she states– “Why there is John at the door! It is no usage, boy, you can’t open it!” (52) Calling her partner ‘boy’ reveals the psychological range she has taken a trip far from him. Her heart likewise is closed to him; he can not open it either. When lastly he goes into the space, he finds her sneaking and concerns her. I kept sneaking simply the same, however I took a look at him over my shoulder. “I’ve gone out at lat.” Said I, “in spite of you and Jane! And I have actually pulled oflFmost of the paper, so you can’t put me back!” Now why that male should have fainted? However he did, and best throughout my path by the wall, so that I had to creep over him!

It is an ironic victory for charlotte. In her eyes her other half is no longer and things of fear; he has ended up being “that male” and she nonchalantly creeps over him. She has asserted herself and her freedom through psychological deJanuary 2006/ 43 KV Rama Rao generation just, rejected other avenues. Therefore the yellow wallpaper plays an in ^ ortant role is the story. Elain Hedges states: “Gihnan exercises the meaning of the wallpaper perfectly, without ostentation. For in spite of all the fancy descriptive detail devoted to it, the wallpaper remains mysteriously, hauntingly undefined and just slightly visuable [sic] (51 ).

The popular phases of the progressive characteristics of the wallpaper importance are that it represents 1. a strange, ^ osUy, unfamiliar thing, repulsive and despiteful, 2. sister-brother relationship– a mixed bag of love and hate, 3. semmingly-menaingful but eventually meaningless complicated life, in general, 4. a jail, 5. the society which oppresses ladies, making them ridiculous, often driving them to suicide, and, 6. the narrator’s own ‘self trying to free herself from the oppression of society. In Gihnan’s hands the wallpaper comes alive and becomes an actor, n active partner in the advancement of events. The progressive degeneration in the narrator’s psychological health and the slow however sure spiritual assertion in the female lead character are worked out with the nelp of the central sign of yellow wallpaper. Functions Cited 1. 2. 3. JCnight, benise D., ed. Tlie Yellow Wallpaper and Selected Stories of Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1994. The Yellow Wallpaper, Afterword by Elain R. Hedges. New York: Feminist Press, 1973. Howells, William Dean, ed. The Great Modem American Stories. New York City: Boni & & Liveright, 1920. p. vii. Poetcrit/ 44

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