On reading “The Yellow Paper,” I established that the premise of writing bases on charlotte’s experiences. Before seeking medical attention, she had faced frequent nervous breakdowns. The physician advised a rest cure as the most efficient way of managing her condition (Gilman 34). According to the medical practitioner, rest cure comprised of activities such as bed rests and engagement of intellectual activities. In her book, I have learned that the author tries to disregard the advice written in “The Yellow Paper.” The author further provides insights that bring into light the “madness” involved in the bed rest procedures. In light of Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper,” I will explore various key points displayed in the fiction in the light of Cixousa’s “The Laugh of the Medusa.”
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The Yellow Paper
In the autobiographical short story, the author of “The Yellow Wallpaper” describes the treatment of a woman in the course of a rest cure. In the story, the physician prescribes a “rest cure” to manage her wife’s situation. The story also describes the submissiveness of the twentieth-century woman (Gilman 44). In the story, the woman, due to the inferiority complex, is unable to express her need to the husband. An observation that I can make at this juncture is that going to the countryside is an approach used by the physician to ensure that the narrator recovers from the nervous breakdown condition. The husband relegates the woman to a third-floor room against her will. The author establishes that the room was initially a nursery and, therefore, abandoned.
From my analysis, I conclude that the yellow wallpapered room acts as an incarceration facility where the woman gets a child-like treatment from the husband. In the beginning, the narrator of the story becomes rebellious against the restriction by keeping a secret diary of the encounters (Gilman 74). The husband destroys her diary in a cruel manner after realizing her ‘disobedience.’ Besides, the author gives less concentration to social interactions between the woman and her husband. Through his busy schedule of giving lectures in other cities, the woman lacks emotional support. In most cases, the man does not concern himself about patronizing conversations and frequently dismisses the wife’s concerns about her health condition. As far as the role of a woman in the story is concerned, I note that the husband expects the woman to trust blindly and believe that she is getting better day-after-day.
Lack of commitment
It is an explicit argument that the husband requires the commitment to improving his wife’s health condition. This fact is evident at the onset of the story. I establish that the irony present in this argument is that; despite the fact that the husband is a renowned physician, he does not offer treatment, as his profession requires him. The primary expectation for Medical practitioners is to provide treatment to their patients in an ethical manner (Gilman 34). The isolation of the wife exhibits the unethical nature of the mode of treatment used by the husband. The man takes the narrator to not only rambled but also an isolated estate in the countryside.
The notion that the house stands separately from the road means that the husband is separating her from the rest of the society (Lanser 435). The narrator describes the house as a place that not only binds but also restricts her from rational thinking. In isolation and restriction, the situation deprives the narrator of healing. For this reason, the house acts as a physical set-up for the woman. From my conclusion, the condition of the isolated house does not provide the emotional necessities for the narrator to heal.
Another factor that exhibits the lack of commitment is her husband’s approach to addressing the issue. Being a physician, the husband has knowledge of his wife’s health condition. Instead of treating this condition, he decides to isolate the woman from the rest of the community. Instead of improving her health condition, the isolated room worsens the situation. On realizing that his approach is not working, the narrator’s husband does not change the treatment approach (keeping her in isolation). With respect to the narrator’s description of her health condition, it is easy to conclude that she is suffering from postpartum depression (Gilman 54).
In medical terms, I understand postpartum depression is a mood disorder characterized by a broad range of not only physical but also emotional change experienced by women during pregnancy. It is evident that she is suffering from Postpartum Depression because she confirms that she is rarely sensitive to issues. A sign that she has just come from pregnancy is visible when she confirms that she regrets the fact that she cannot hold her baby. She continually cries for no reason. Therefore, I conclude that being a qualified physician, the husband fails to show commitment by giving the narrator the appropriate treatment for her condition.
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Feminism in the Yellow Paper
I envision the husband mistreating the narrator to instill fear. At the story’s onset, the narrator takes his wife to an isolated place to recover from her health condition. The description of the site does not support a quick recovery. Instead, it invariably inflicts pain and prolongs the recovery period (Lanser 415). Choosing an ample environment is necessary for a speedy recovery. From my analysis of the subjugation of women, I conclude that taking her sick wife to an isolated environment made her condition worse. The narrator starts to envision strange figures on the wallpaper on moving to a new environment. The reader and the husband understand that the narrator might be losing her mind. Confined physically by the husband in the room, she does not get a chance to express herself. Despite the intervention made by the man, the narrator continues to suffer from a nervous breakdown. While her mind becomes a prison in itself, the man deprives her of independent thinking.
As evidenced in this works, the poststructuralist thinkers’ language plays a significant part in the creation of reality. For the stated reason, “The Yellow Paper” uses language depicted in the “Laugh of the Medusa” in creating the different forms of reality that women face (Cixous 249). Laugh of the Medusa, poststructuralist feminist writing, provides a total dismantling of the current symbol of things. The tone used in “The Laugh of the Medusa” acts as an active creator of women’s oppression. In this context, “The Yellow Paper “invites women into writing to reimage language into an ecriture feminine: a female mode of writing.
On reading The Yellow Paper, I have concluded that a feminine kind of writing accessed through rediscovering the female lived body. Rediscovering the female lived body in this form of writing may result in a breakdown of the prevalent phallogocentrism hence leading to new ways of living and thinking. Cixous (348) locates a female body as the admittance point for ecriture feminine as a rhetorical strategy for understanding the female body. I conclude that in the light of Cixous’ “The Laugh of the Medusa,” the Yellow Paper” acts as an essential reassessment of options to linear, phallocentric, and rational thinking.
Cixous, Hélène. “The Laugh of the Medusa.” Feminisms: An anthology of literary theory and criticism (1997): 347-362. Print.
Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. “Why I Wrote The Yellow Wallpaper.” Women 2.3 (1913). Print.
Lanser, Susan S. “Feminist Criticism,” The Yellow Wallpaper,” and the Politics of Color in America.” Feminist Studies (1989): 415-441. Print.