The Yellow Wallpaper

  “’Better in body perhaps—‘  I began, and stopped short, for he [John] sat up straight and looked at me with such a stern, reproachful look that I could not say another word.”  What seems to be John’s attitude about the narrator’s condition? How does this mirror society’s attitude—both past and present—regarding mental health conditions?

In the story, The Yellow Wallpaper, by Charlotte Gilman, a woman in the 1900s in dealing with depression. She blames the “sulfur” coloured wallpaper for her depression, implying it stinks, she thinks that the wallpaper is destroying her on the inside when in realityher husbands attitude is the complication. Her husband John is a physician and is trying to help her but he is only able to look at the her state objectively, she does not get the emotional aid that she needs so she writes in her journal as therapy. She must stay in a small nursery with bared window, in the story she juxtaposes the life of a prisoner and the life of a baby to her life, the room she stays in is symbolism for the fact that she is reduced to a child, when her husband doesn’t let her visit her cousin she cries, symbolizing that she is not afforded the luxury of being an adult. Her husband has his best intentions but does not approach the situation in the correct fashion, he gives her medicine and locks her in a room hoping that it will cure her depression but all she wants is John to be the loving husband he needs to be. Back then it was, we approached people with mental illness in a paternal manner where we tacked the physical aspects of mental illness instead of the inner for society views the mentally ill as lesser. Today we are more accepting of the mentally ill but we do not truly understand the state that they are in unless we have felt their illness first hand. We must understand and try to relate to those that are mentally ill if we wish to help them.


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