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Conflict in ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ by C. Perkins Gilman Essay

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Updated: Aug 31st, 2022

Introduction

The title of the story is ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. This story has been taken from the book ‘The Norton anthology of short Fiction’ written by Richards Buasch R.V. Cassill. The topic chosen from the story for analyzing is ‘To what extent is the protagonist of the story you’ve chosen responsible for the conflict or predicament he or she faces’. The thesis statement prepared for the topic is there are numerous states of affairs in the story for protagonist who undergoes or faces difficult situations in her life knowingly and unknowingly. The different stages include description of protagonist’s physical, mental and spiritual traits that are revolving around her due to different circumstances in her life. Protagonist is shown as a mentally decayed person.

Analysis

Protagonist and her unhappy mind

Protagonist and her husband John moves to “colonial mansion, a hereditary estate” (Gilman 1). Main intention of John is to cure the mental disease of the protagonist. The protagonist’s husband being a physician follows rest cure treatment, which results in some sorts of physical, mental and spiritual sufferings. Protagonist is interested in writing and doing creative activity, but she is “absolutely forbidden to “work”” (Gilman 598) by her husband. Here begins protagonist’s predicament in her life. She hates her husband while she is not being allowed to write. Protagonist believes that her illness would cure only by having company with more people and by writing. But, John does not agree to it. Even though protagonist feels that the mansion and its surrounding are quite beautiful, she feels “something strange about the house” (Gilman 598). She told this to John, but he refuses to hear. Also, she is not at all happy in selection of the bedroom. This is a former nursery and “windows are barred for little children, and there are rings and things in the walls” (Gilman 599) and this increases her feeling of imprisonment.

Protagonist and yellow wallpaper

The wallpaper present in her room irritates her. “This wallpaper has a kind of sub-patterns in different shade particularly irritating one” (Gilman 601). She tries to convince her husband about this, but he is not ready to remove it. When wallpaper takes a lead role, the protagonist starts to demonstrate some illness issues. Her mind escapes from reality to some sort of spiritual feelings. She begins to feel that someone inside wallpaper is watching her. All these happen unknowingly or it is some sort of illusion. The changes in the behavior of the protagonist have been strongly mentioned in the story in relation with sunlight and moonlight. As days pass, her perceptive towards wallpaper also changes. She begins to feel that there is something more to reveal inside the wallpaper. Her subconscious mind begins to feel that woman in the wallpaper is trying to come out. She feels that “a woman stooping down and creeping about behind that pattern” (Gilman 603). From here onwards, she starts work to free the woman behind the wallpaper. What she does is, during night when John goes to sleep; she tears the wallpaper slowly, hoping to free the woman. She does this in the night, in order to escape from others seeing this. This shows something has changed. In the beginning of the story, John had control over his wife. Now, the yellow wallpaper has replaced John. It is the yellow wallpaper, which totally defines the protagonist and her behavior. Because of this, her sense of realism fully goes out of control. She thinks only about the wallpaper. Finally, she locks herself in the room in the night before the last day of leaving the mansion. She tears the wallpaper up to her reach to free the woman inside. She finally realizes that in spite of John and Jennie, she frees the woman inside the wallpaper.

More about The Yellow Wallpaper

Conclusion

The essay describes the different circumstances the protagonist undergoes during her illness knowingly and unknowingly. Plenty of situations are highlighted to show the transformation of the protagonist from one to another. Her behavior is not the same in sunlight and moonlight. During sunlight, she is quite natural and her power is under the control of John. But, when moonlight comes in and John goes to sleep, her subconscious mind comes to power.

Works Cited

Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. The Yellow Wallpaper. (Provided by the customer).

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IvyPanda. 2022. "Conflict in ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ by C. Perkins Gilman." August 31, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/conflict-in-the-yellow-wallpaper-by-c-perkins-gilman/.

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IvyPanda. (2022) 'Conflict in ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ by C. Perkins Gilman'. 31 August.

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