“Female Confinement and Escape in The Yellow Wallpaper”
“’The Yellow Wallpaper’ is a striking story of female confinement and escape,” according to Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar. This story exemplifies the domesticated, male-dominant treatment of women in the nineteenth-century through the eyes of a narrator undergoing treatment for what is presently known as post-partum depression. In The Yellow Wallpaper, there are many images and aesthetics used to portray the narrator’s physical and symbolic confinement. This paper will also examine the narrator’s reaction to her confinement, or her “escape”, as well as the cause for such bizarre behavior.
“That Gilman’s narrator is physically and spiritually trapped by her husband is apparent from the beginning of the story” (SSS, 284). The colonial mansion that John (the husband) brings the sick narrator to is approximately three miles away from the nearest town, with “hedges and walls and gates that lock” (Gilman, 425). She is placed on the top floor of this mansion in a room that denotes isolation. The room that she desired was not big enough for two beds and her husband would not have it, he rarely allows her to do anything without his consent. The physical characteristics of the room are more suitably described as a room at a mental institution. There are bars on the windows, the bed is nailed to the floor, there are rings hanging on the walls, and scratch marks across the wooden floor. There is also the deteriorating yellow wallpaper that becomes the assistance to her insanity. John, a doctor of physical medicine, believes that his wife’s illness is caused by physical problems, and nothing but the “rest cure” is what she needs. It is actually because of this isolation and domestication that causes her to snap.
“The prescribed cure is total rest and total emptiness of mind. While she craves intellectual stimulation and activity…what she receives is the standard treatment meted out to women in a...