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The Yellow Wall-Paper
The short story "The Yellow Wall-Paper" written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is a cry for freedom. This story is about a woman who fights for her right to express what she feels, and fights for her right to do what she wants to do. The narrator in this short story is a woman whose husband loves her very much, but oppresses her to the point where she cannot take it anymore. This story revolves around the main character, her oppressed life, and her search for freedom. There are many male influences in this woman's life and although they may mean no harm, push her over the edge. The main character's husband, John, and her brother are well-known physicians. They use their power to control the main character, perhaps subconsciously, to feel what they think a woman should feel. For example, the woman tells the men she is sick but they believe differently. "John is a physician, and perhaps- (I would not say it to a living soul, of course, but this is dead paper and a great relief to my mind-) perhaps that is one reason I do not get well faster. You see he does not believe I am sick!"(507) The men are under the impression that what they say goes and therefore the woman has no choice but to follow. "He knows there is no reason to suffer and that satisfies him."(508) This quote illustrates that the men are in control. If they strongly believe nothing is wrong, then nothing must be wrong. It is a feeling of self satisfaction the men feel w!hen they are superior to the woman. The main character knows John loves her, but it is the oppression she feels that bothers her so. Her husband expresses his love for her but at the same time imposes his will on her. He hinders her from having her own thoughts. "?He is very careful and loving, and hardly lets me stir without special direction?"(507) The last few words of this quote show how John did not let her have any freedom because he was always there. John acts as if he knows what the main character feels at all times. The main character had absolutely no freedom, for her husband would let nothing happen unless he was there to supervise. An example of this treatment is when she wanted to get out of the house and visit some cousins, but John insisted she really did not want to go. "Dear John! He loves me very dearly, and hates to have me sick. I tried to have a real earnest reasonable talk with him the other day, and tell him how I wish he would let me go and make a visit to Cousin Henry and Juli!a. But he said I wasn't able to go, nor able to stand it after I got there?"(511) The main character understands her husband loves her, but he insists on her doing what he wants her to do. John says she will not stand it after she got there, but how did he know this? John has absolutely no idea how his wife feels, he just imposes his ways on her and expects her to abide. John sees no reason why his wife should go so therefore he believes she should not. He does not consider her wanting to go a good enough reason for him to let her go visit. Another example of the misery the main character feels is her inability to write freely. The woman hides herself while she writes the frustration she feels inside. Writing is this woman's only way of expressing her emotions, the anger, sadness, fear, and what little happiness she felt. She cannot express these emotions physically in public so she writes them down or else she will suffocate in her incapability to express her mind. John strongly disapproves his wife's writing because he knows he will not be able to control this factor of her life. "He says that with my imaginative power and habit of story-making, a nervous weakness like mine is sure to lead to all manner of excited fancies, and that I ought to use my will and good the check the tendency."(509) The husband knows she has the ability to think for herself. He
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Mental illness in fiction, The Yellow Wallpaper, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, charlotte perkins gilman, self satisfaction, short story, few words, narrator, oppression, wall paper, physicians, freedom, brother, love
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