In “The Yellow Wallpaper,” Charlotte Perkins Gilman presents readers with the theme of a woman limited by her more effective partner. When a lady being treated for hysteria by her aggressive partner is required to remain in a room with maddening yellow wallpaper, she is ultimately driven outrageous, envisioning a woman is caught inside the pattern. She herself is caught in a world where females are not taken seriously and are dismissed as hysterical. Gilman’s choice of a very first person perspective– more particularly one of a woman composing in a diary– assists to highlight the frightening scenario of the woman in the story. The special viewpoint allows readers to see not just the internal feelings of a female essentially imprisoned, but likewise the implications of composing such a diary and the minutes when the woman is holding back (or being held back).
It must be confessed that there is a problem with having a first individual narrator in a work of fiction. A certain degree of dependability is lost when readers only hear one side of the story, specifically when it’s difficult to tell if that one side of the story is even true. Gilman definitely sets up the storyteller of “The Yellow Wall-Paper” to be less than perfectly sincere. Not long after the story opens, the narrator says of her husband John, “You see he does not believe I am ill!” (Gilman 1670) Later she is described as a lady with an “imaginative power and practice of story-making” (1672 ). And by the end of the story when the storyteller thinks there is a female inside the wallpaper, the reader understands she is not speaking from an unbiased perspective. Nevertheless, Gilman actually uses this unreliability of the narrator to her advantage. A crucial part of this story is the reality that this female is trapped in this situation since her husband won’t listen to her– she’s hysterical, and additionally, a woman in 1892. She pleads him to relocate to a various room without the yellow wall-paper, but he tells her not to “give way to such fancies” (1672 ). Gilman takes this principle and turns it on its head, plunging the reader into a story told by somebody who no one listens to. The reader is required to listen. Even as she descends into madness, the reader stays with her and listens to her internal ideas. She might not be trusted, however she becomes relatable when the reader hears her point of view. Through her telling of things, the antagonist John becomes the more undependable one in the story, the one who is feeding his spouse lies, even though on the planet the story takes place in, John is a “doctor of high standing” (1670) and his word is the one that matters! However Gilman expertly triggers readers to believe the hallucinating female over her doctor husband, just through perspective.
To totally comprehend the significance of point of view in this story, a reader should think about the medium through which it is being informed: in a journal. Not just that, but a secret journal. There are implications to having such a diary, since the lady’s partner will not permit her to compose. When he or his sibling comes into the space, the narrator must conceal it. This aspect of the viewpoint is essential because what the storyteller is informing the reader is something she can not say aloud. “I would not state it to a living soul, naturally,” she composes, “however this is dead paper and a fantastic relief to my mind” (Gilman 1670). These words are trapped within the pages of a diary– “dead paper”– simply as the lady is caught in the wallpaper, and simply as the storyteller is trapped in her marriage.This diary format likewise enables readers little peeks into the way genders were viewed at this time, however from a woman’s viewpoint. There are subtleties in the important things she writes that depict men as the dominant (and aggressive) members of society. For example, the narrator observes that “The paint and paper appear a young boys’ school had actually utilized it” (Gilman 1671). She states this because it is “removed off in excellent patches” (1671) and looking tattered and abused. The narrator does not purposely recognize she is doing so, however mentioning this uses readers insight into the method she sees the opposite sex: as damaging. She sees something ruined and automatically assumes kids did it– and by the end of the story, her mental health is damaged because of the male in her life.
Another subtle hint into the gender functions in this story remains in the truth that the woman’s name is never pointed out. Generally in a story, the more important characters are provided names. Since it’s told from her perspective, hers is never found. Yet John’s name is mentioned 45 times in this short story. It is scattered all over, emphasizing his significance and his hang on her life. In truth, this constant talk of John contributes greatly to the voice of the speaker. Her train of idea is typically disrupted with however John this and but John that. A perfect example of this follows: “I in some cases fancy that in my condition if I had less opposition and more society and stimulus– however John states the really worst thing I can do is to think about my condition, and I admit it always makes me feel bad” (Gilman 1670). This single sentence shows the relationship between the 2. In the first part are the female’s thoughts. However these ideas are always subdued by her husband’s prescriptions and recommendations. Eventually, in this father-knows-best society, they impact the method she views her own viewpoints. She values his above her own, and adopts them, believing perhaps he is right, as shown in the last clause of that sentence.
In this story (at least in the beginning of it before she goes crazy), the first individual point of view reveals the restraint of the female, showing the way she is limited by her husband. Going even further than all the but Johns in the story, the female writes with a design that is reticent and self-conscious; she keeps herself in check and assesses any “disobedience” she may feel, like when she says, “I get unreasonably upset with John in some cases. I’m sure I never ever utilized to be so delicate. I believe it is because of this anxious condition” (Gilman 1671). She dismisses her own thoughts as unimportant, making excuses for them, because in her life she has become accustomed to being dismissed. She believes there is no chance to validate her sensations besides blaming it on her illness. After all, that’s what her husband does. Another part that highlights this dismissiveness is when she states, “I would not be so ridiculous regarding make him uneasy simply for a whim” (1672 ), referring to wanting to move to a room that would make her less unpleasant. John is continuously referred to as “dear,” while she is the “unreasonable” and “ridiculous” one. “It is so difficult to talk with John about my case,” she states, “due to the fact that he is so sensible, and due to the fact that he likes me so” (1675 ). The reader can inform he is the antagonist in the story, but the irony is that she represents him as the “good guy.” Later on in the story, however, the point of view reveals that the woman is ending up being less limited in her writing, having actually grown strong with insanity. She starts to depict John as the tyrant he is. She admits she is “a little afraid of [him] (1677 ). And at the very end, she no longer thinks of him as the smart, dear other half at all. She even refers to him in a diminutive way as she creeps around the room in the climax– “It is no use, young man, you can’t open it!” she states (1680 ).
Had the story been distinguished a 3rd individual perspective, the reader would not be able to acquire such insight into the subtleties of the female’s view of her scenario. Her restrained voice would not appear, and the story would do not have the dramatic ramifications of the secret diary. Had it been told from the point of view of another character– John’s or his sibling’s– the woman’s insanity would be the central theme, rather than her being suppressed by her partner. The very first individual viewpoint is vital to establishing this style. In “The Yellow Wall-Paper,” Gilman uses viewpoint to develop an essential feminist work that takes a look at women’s issues from a female’s point of view.
Functions Pointed out
Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. “The Yellow Wall-Paper.” The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Shorter Eighth Edition. Baym, Nina, et al. New York: W.W. Norton & & Company, Inc., 2013. 1669-1681. Print.