The Yellow Wallpaper Research Papers
Analyze this short story using setting as the basis of your research paper. Charlotte Perkins paid close attention to setting and it is an intricate part of the story. Learn more about the story from the writers at Paper Masters. They can help you formulate a project on The Yellow Wallpaper that you need written.
- Is the natural, manufactured, political, cultural, and temporal environment, including everything that the characters know, own, and otherwise experience.
- It also includes description of places, objects, and backgrounds.
Right from the start of Charlotte Perkins Gilman's story, The Yellow Wallpaper, the reader gets the sense that things are not right with the woman narrator. The reader gets the vague but unmistakable feeling that she is unsettled mentally. It takes awhile before the reader learns that the woman narrator is in fact psychotic. Gilman's literary skill in this story is revealing bit by bit in its development the depths of the woman's mental unbalance.
The reader also soon sees that the woman's relationship with her husband is not right either. This does not seem as serious a circumstance as the woman's unsettled mental state. The two circumstances of her mental unbalance and the imbalance in her relationship with her husband are not inter-related or explored by Gilman. The literature research paper, however, assumes there is some relationship between them because of the woman's mention of her husband's perspective toward her early in the story.
The Yellow Wall-Paper was written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman in the late Nineteenth Century. Although Gilman met with initial difficulty in getting her tale published and early reception was mixed, this short story has come to be accepted as a superlative example of feminist writing. However, to truly understand the issues and implications of The Yellow Wall-Paper, it is important to consider the social context in which the story takes place, specifically 19th century views of mental illness and the then popular rest cure. Much of this information can be explored through the context of Gilman’s own life.
The nineteenth century brought with it significant social changes, and these changes were often used to explain the onset of mental illness in the time period. Two specific issues converge in the nineteenth century:
- The view of mental illness, as is relevant to Gilman and her writing. First was the fact that nineteenth century people were less likely than their ancestors to live close to nature. It was assumed that “their nerves could be worn down by the demands of civilization.” Striving for success, the pressure of finances and societal stress became recognized sources of insanity inevitable in a civilized society.
- In addition to a physical move of people away from nature, there was a decisive movement during the nineteenth century of some women away from traditional female roles. Many in the conventionally patriarchal society fought the legitimacy and morality of this movement.
Conflicting expectations and aspiration were legitimate points of stress for women facing new choices. Predictably, the prevailing wisdom of the day was to equate the intellectual pursuits of women with mental illness, especially when those pursuits were at odds with the traditional role of a woman as wife and mother. If a nineteenth century woman attempted to reconcile her conflicting emotions regarding her possible roles advice inevitably suggested that she abandon the stress of non traditional pursuits. The rest cure treatment for mental illness which became popular at the time was based in part on the belief that women “must be protected from higher education and all intellectual and artistic work if they were to remain healthy”. There is a body of thought that also associates the rest cure with teaching women to be more passive and feminine.
The young wife once enjoyed looking out the windows, but at this point the scenes can only serve to remind her more of the prison in which she is now trapped. She has forgotten how to live outside the walls and does not know how to leave them. The yellow wallpaper has become both the barricade that keeps her in and the means by which she has been transformed. The women she sees are indicative of both her self and her sex, an entire gender which had to conform to the chauvinistic opinions of husbands and doctors who found them too weak to think and decide for themselves. She realizes that leaving the room does not mean she will be free from those expectations. This passage foreshadows the force behind her efforts to strip the wallpaper from the walls. In this act she is will try to control the system by destroying the manifest source of all those women’s madness, the yellow wallpaper.