The Yellow Wallpaper and A Rose for Emily

The Yellow Wallpaper and A Rose for Emily

“As medical authority has actually become more comprehensive, it has always end up being more scattered as well; so that ethical and medical categories are now thoroughly and probably inextricably puzzled.”

— Edgar Z. Friedenberg-


The 2 short stories, The Yellow Wallpaper and A Rose for Emily unravel insanity on 2 different views. The first provides an in-depth and including autobiographical representation of a female’s psychological breakdown, while the latter deals a far-off, detached look at a female victim of “insanity.” Of the two, Gilman’s story supplies a much better examination of the topic because her storyteller is likewise the lead character thus, providing the readers a more thorough look into the character’s internal crisis.

Gilman’s short story provokes readers to consider the spouse’s condition specifically when, at a closer analysis, her narration ends up being totally comprehensive and reasonable, ill-befitting an expected loony individual. Is it actually insanity that she’s suffering from? Or is it a case of misdiagnosis on the part of the husband physician?

According to Anne J. Lane’s introduction in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s novel Herland the latter wrote The Yellow Wallpaper to avenge the horrendous experience she had under the care of professional psychiatrists when she confessed herself under the care of Dr. S. Weir Mitchell in 1887. Gilman personally opposed Dr. Mitchell’s “rest treatment” which according to her practically drove her mad. (Lane, pg. vii) Similarly, her nameless lead character in the story is required to undergo the same inhuman abuse, then made as a needed medical prescription.

Thinking about the better half’s accounts in the story, she is most probably going through a post partum depression, not insanity. Gilman experienced anxiety not long after she brought to life her daughter Katharine. Similarly, the better half in the story points out a child that she fails to take care of because of her weakened state. (Gilman, pg 168)

Apart from the severe emotional distress that the protagonist experiences there are no strong evidence to her supposed intellectual degeneration. In truth, the narrative abounds with tangible testaments of her lucidity. On top of the list is the deep insight she shows in her writings. The narrative is framed like a journal or diary which provides the readers a direct access to her inmost thoughts.

This device helps the readers to comprehend a much better understanding of her character. In her recollections, the better half shows clear, introspective observations of her environments. For example, she alone slams why your home they’re leasing is let so cheaply despite of its hugeness. Her hubby believes that her unusual claim about your house is nothing but unwarranted fancy, but at a closer examination her assertions in fact hold water.

And she knows that she makes sense which is why she proudly verifies her reflections in her journal. (Gilman, pg 165) Worthwhile proof is the other half’s clever remark about her unresponsive condition. “John is a doctor- maybe that is one factor that I do not get well much faster.” (Gilman, pg 115) This statement displays the protagonist’s sound deductive powers. How can she be a madcap when she is totally in control of her senses?

She is aware of her emotional distress and she admits it. A mad person will never admit that she or he is sick. The better half accepts that she is mentally unsteady, as of the minute, but is it sensible to classify her prematurely as a wacko and subject her to unhealthy therapy? Moreover, why would you recommend absolute seclusion and overall rest to a person who is already lonely and miserable? Wouldn’t that simply heighten the condition to a severe degree? More importantly, how can she be ill when her other half, himself thinks otherwise? “He does not think that I am ill.” (Gilman, pg 165)

The other half refuses to acknowledge her condition due to the fact that he never ever takes her seriously in the first location. He freely rejects at her observations, generalizing them as superstitious nonsense without ever hearing out her reasons for her claims. And now, he rejects proper attention to her distress.

John holds an exceptional authority over her due to the fact that he is her husband and attending doctor. In both instances he has the upper hand on her. As his spouse, she is obliged to remain at house and as his patient, she is subject, again to physical confinement. This method, referred to as the “rest remedy” approach incapacitates her to immobility and utter uselessness, including injury to her damaged spirit and dejected sense of self.

The spouse is knowingly mindful that this supposed treatment is exactly what is driving her ridiculous. Lack of stimulants, complete seclusion and lack of exercise snuff out the life out of her. Her enforced catatonia heightens the heartbroken anxiety that is pulling her down. Despite the fact that she knows what is best for her, she can’t do anything about it.

“I believe that congenial work, with excitement and modification, would do me great.” (Gilman, pg. 166) This declaration is further evidence of her sound judgment. She is completely conscious of her being and what would be good for her, similar to any normal person is.

Despite of her partner’s manipulation, she still handles to regain control of her ideas through her journal. In it, she expresses her doubts, her fears, and her hopes. She collects her ideas and assesses her circumstance. She still knows herself better than anyone, but she is not totally free to take control of her life as it is.

Her flexibility is removed from her, when her spouse identified her to be ill. This reality distresses her the most, it and intensifies her desolation. She keeps duplicating the phrase “what is one to do?” over and over at the beginning of the story indicating her large helplessness and inconsolable grief over her fate.

Like a mad client in an asylum, she is trapped inside her bed room. As mentioned, the extreme restriction imposed upon her worsens her psychological turmoil. This describes why domestic imprisonment prevails in the symbolisms utilized in the story. Your home in itself is an enclosed center that stultifies her development and suppresses her liberty.

The “hedges, and walls and gates that lock” (Gilman, pg 166) that decorates the house all connotes physical containment. Furthermore, the windows in their bed room are barred stressing entirely the storyteller’s captive state. Last, however a lot of significantly, the wallpaper. The wallpaper consists of the figure of the female inside the pattern.

This female figure symbolizes the narrator. Both females are held hostage inside the house, and they are struggling to break free. If the wife will not resist the oppression of her hubby she will easily be lost into the background.

The partner contradicts her partner’s repression by keeping a journal. Her partner strictly warns her against stressing herself by writing; still, she furtively exercises her capability. The journal functions as her ally and keeps her from finally losing it. It provides her the motivating business that she wishes for. “But I need to state what I feel and think in some way- it is such a relief.” (Gilman, pg 172)

Her writing launches her stress and quells her spells of nervousness. In addition, it provides a healthy stimulant that counters her solitude and inspires her to combat. She attempted informing John of her unimproved condition however when he implicates her of fabricating her disease, she took the matter into her own hands. She removed the wallpaper down to release the woman concealing behind the complicated print and in doing so she gained her liberty back.

Barbara Solomon stated in her intro to Herland and Other Stories that most of Gilman’s works are directed towards exposing the unfavorable, and frequently deadly, results of the cult of feminine domesticity. In a similar way, Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily stresses the harmful results of female stereotyping.

If in The Yellow Wallpaper the lady as better half is jailed in the house and submerged in intellectual torpor, the heroine in A Rose for Emily, experiences a parallel immobility. Emily, like any woman of her stature is restricted from leaving your house upon the stiff orders of her dad. Most of the townsfolk believed that her dad’s strictness occurs from the cultivated and sheltered life she has.

On the contrary, gender, not class inequality is at the root of her misfortune. Emily’s over protective father prevents her from heading out of the house simply as he prohibits her to have a life of her own. The house becomes a jail, not a lot a house for her.

Terry Heller in The Obvious Hair: A Vital Research Study of William Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily comments that the villagers have put Emily on a pedestal. This romanticized idea of ladies imposes social norms upon the female gender and turns them into best idols, deserving of revered adoration.

At the beginning of the story, the narrator envisions Emily in a tableau as a “slender, white figure in the background.” This illustration towers above her character as a secondary person not fit to act in the center of the phase of life. She is constantly hidden behind the shadow of her enforcing dad. And even after he’s gone, the stiff worth systems that her dad enforced upon her stick around on and continue to determine her life.

The color white signifies the patriarchal custom of associating pureness to females. As paragons of cleanliness and virtue, ladies must resign to their submissive functions. They should never inhabit worldly desires. Emily never had the possibility to seek out her dreams and ambitions. She was never provided the chance to set her own goals, for this reason she attained absolutely nothing and her life remained uneventful.

At the prime of her life, Emily is loved by all due to the fact that of her charm and youth, but when she grew older people are then repulsed by her wilting presence. Terry Halter says that Emily and her house are both victims of time and decay. Emily is a victim of the decadent patriarchal morality of the society she lives in.

Individuals around her are very crucial of her since she never lived up to the society’s expectations. As a woman, she is expected to get wed and have a family of her own. But her proud and over meddling dad hindered any possibilities of marital relationship for her. Spinsters are disgraced in the society since they stop working to increase to the needs of many.

Barren as they are, they do not contribute anything to the neighborhood. They stay unproductive problem of the town. Emily, for instance, declines to pay her taxes. In doing so, she dedicates a heavy offense that benefits the town’s grudge. From then on, her every movement is marked with utter disgust and hostility.

And due to the fact that of Emily’s persistent resistance to authority individuals immediately identify her as a batty old lady. Her age and non-traditional way of life earned her a shady reputation in the town, giving her next-door neighbors a license to attack and concern her common sense. Surprisingly, there was never ever a correct examination about Homer’s murder, as if the situation fixed itself on its own.

The people never bothered to investigate the case even more because they resigned themselves to the “fact” that Emily is exclusively responsible for the death of Homer, seeing that she hid the body for so long. Nevertheless, it ought to be explained that the narrator’s accounts are simple assumptions.

Sure, they discovered the remains in the bed room upstairs but it was never ever shown if it was actually Emily who killed Homer. It was never even settled how Homer died. What if Tobe is the one really who eliminated him? After all, he was the one who was last seen with Homer the night that Homer vanished.

And besides, according to the story, Tobe just disappeared right after the next-door neighbors invaded the house after Emily’s funeral service. Why? Emily could have been guilty of keeping the remains in the bedroom but is she really culpable of killing her only true love? It is similarly possible that Emily could be innocent relating to the death of Homer.

Though, she might have undoubtedly, refused to surrender the body to appropriate authorities simply as she opposes to bow down versus tax collectors. Emily’s resistance to pay her taxes, to socialize with her next-door neighbors and to surrender Homer’s body to authority might all have been her attempts to fight for her lost flexibility. By withstanding norms and social proprieties she was able to reclaim her rights.


Both stories force readers to slam the society’s concept of normalcy, goodness, and factor. In his essay entitled Sick, Sick, Sick? Edgar Friedenberg affirms that society’s requirements are political and therefore, they are not to be relied on as axioms. The unnamed spouse and Emily are victims of the society’s efforts to impose its narrow-minded ideologies to the general public by providing morality as valid scientific truths.

As medical realities, ethical righteousness handles an objective, outright verity that must be promoted and protected at all expenses. What the society fails to understand is that these females are antagonized due to the fact that of their nonconformity to the general understanding: the spouse, because she wants to explore her writing capabilities and Emily, due to the fact that she picked to live a singular life and refuses to pay her tax charges.

Works Mentioned

Friedenberg, Edgar Z. “Sick, Sick, Sick?” The New York City Times On The Internet. New York Times Company, August 1998.

Faulkner, William. “A Rose for Emily.” Selected Short Stories of William Faulkner. U.S.A.: Random House Inc., 1930, pages 47-60.

Gilman, Charlotte P. “The Yellow Wallpaper.” Herland and Other Stories. New York: Penguin Books Ltd. 1992, pages 165-181.

Heller, Terry. “The Obvious Hair: A Critical Study of William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily.'” Arizona Quarterly 28 (1972 ): 301-18.

Solomon, Barbara. H. ed. “Intro.” Herland and Other Stories. New York: Penguin Books Ltd. 1992, pages xvi-xxxi.

Lane, Anne J. “Intro.” Herland. U.S.A.: Pantehon Books, 1979, pages v-xxiv.

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