The Yellow Wallpaper

As I read this story I continued to feel anxious for the main character in hopes that she would help the women behind the wallpaper escape and free them. I found myself relating with her situation and hoping for her to find a way to help these people. During our discussions in class this week, I noticed that there were many mixed feelings about this story and that some people did not like it. Does this say something about myself and how I related with the character? There were discussions about how this story represented the treatment of women by men during this time. Which then made me ask myself, “Do I feel the same way that she did?” I certainly don’t feel oppressed, but it’s an important question to ask myself none the less.

The intense descriptive nature of this story kept me engaged throughout the entire ordeal and I actually felt left hanging at the end when it just ended with her husband finding her and he passed out. I had been built up to such an expectation of her events, that it never really felt like the story ended. I was experiencing these events with the character and identifying myself with her. I have certainly been through my own ordeals of mental breakdowns, and maybe this is why I related so strongly with the psychiatric portion of the story and completely missed the representation of the symbolism. However I also believe that the character was not mentally disturbed. Her illness is positioned around the belief that she was overly stimulated by creativity and that to “cure” her illness she had to keep away from intellectual stimulation and physical stimulation. This is turn pushed her to stimulate herself intellectually. By not being allowed to have anything that could possibly stimulate herself, she in turn found stimulation in the wallpaper. I believe that being forced to have no stimulation is what caused her to have a breakdown. She went from not being sick to being forced into a situation that made her sick. Which in turn brings us back to the representation of the suppression of women.

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