This in turn allows Gilman to posit two theories about her main character; either she is insane or she is suffering from these feelings of oppression. The author has created a narrator who is not entirely reliable yet is prone to making very potent statements about her situation as an oppressed woman. This narrator is clearly feeling trapped in a marriage that does not allow her freedom.
It is very seldom that mere ordinary people like John and myself secure ancestral homes for the summer. All of this is actually pretty aggressively anonymous: Why are these traits so important?
Because they provide the context central conflicts that drive the story.
The narrator is a woman of sensitive temperament, and she is also a writer. She has been ill, and her illness has placed her in a weak position in relation to domineering John.
That might have us crawling up or maybe into? And what about class? Maybe this lack of labor would be lucky for her if she was allowed to do anything else, but her illness has restricted her activities pretty much entirely.
How do we know this? She tells us so within the first page: I did write for a while in spite of [John telling me not too]; but it does exhaust me a good deal—having to be so sly about it, or else meet with heavy opposition. Jennie may not have much power in the household, but she does have one thing that the narrator envies: Such a dear girl as she is, and so careful of me!
I must not let her find me writing. She is a perfect and enthusiastic housekeeper, and hopes for no better profession.
I verily believe she thinks it is the writing which made me sick! As the story goes on, the narrator grows to resent John and Jennie more and more.
Still, we know mental illness is going to be an issue right from the first page because, once again, the narrator lets us know explicitly: And what can one do?
Personally, I believe that congenial work, with excitement and change, would do me good. But what is one to do? Perhaps her baby had a difficult birth?
He refuses to acknowledge that her mind could be sick even though her body is healthy. The story does a great job of suggesting the claustrophobic conditions that make her condition worse: And look how that turned out. The only thing that the narrator has left to do is to speculate about the ugly, irregular wallpaper of the attic room.
In fact, as she grows more certain that she gets the wallpaper as no one else does, the people she knows become correspondingly less understandable. The fact is I am getting a little afraid of John. He seems very queer sometimes, and even Jennie has an inexplicable look.The Yellow Wallpaper: Theme Analysis, Free Study Guides and book notes including comprehensive chapter analysis, complete summary analysis, author biography information, character profiles, theme analysis, metaphor analysis, and top ten quotes on classic literature.
The prison-like setting of The Yellow Wallpaper reinforces the popular belief during the early twentieth century of mental illness as a prison—just another of Gilman’s criticisms of psychology of the time. The Yellow Wallpaper study guide contains a biography of Charlotte Perkins Gilman, literature essays, a complete e-text, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.
Well, “The Yellow Wallpaper” remains as ambiguous and unclear about the narrator’s illness as it does about her identity, so it’s tough to say what, exactly, is wrong with her. Still, we know mental illness is going to be an issue right from the first page because, once again, the narrator lets us know explicitly.
The main character in "The Yellow Wallpaper," Jane, is mentally ill. The story, written in first person epistolary style, is rife with dramatic irony because of its unreliable narrator.
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