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Subject The Yellow Wallpaper
Posted by Debra
Posted on Wed Oct 21 11:47:03 1998
From IP c549-9.svdcc.fju.edu.tw  

There are three main characters in this story; the woman who is the narrator, John, her husband and Jennie, his sister. The woman is considered to suffer from a temporary nervous depression by John and his brother, who are both physicians. However, she thinks that she suffers from something that is more than a slight hysterical tendency. Even so, she doesn't have enough evidences to convince her husband for he "scoffs openly at any talk of thing not to be felt and seen and put down in figures." Because of his extreme practicality and superiority, he invalidates her feelings many times. Once when she tells him about her strange feeling toward the house, he says something unimportant and shuts the window immediately. For nursery, they go to top of the house. She starts living in a big room, which has the yellow wallpaper that confuses her. She tries to tell him about her irritation toward the wallpaper, but again, he doesn¡¦t try to do anything. She is always isolated emotionally because he always does things in his way, and seldom cares about what she really needs. She doesn¡¦t have a choice other than staying in that room and let him control everything in her life. She is not supposed to write even a word! In the beginning, she hates the wallpaper, but later on her attitude becomes different from what she has expected. The wallpaper represents two opposite things; a jail and also the only way to let her emotions free. I think the hatred toward the wallpaper at first is caused by her resistance to admit her desire for freedom and autonomy. As she studies the pattern of the wallpaper and tries to find out what is the figure on it at night, she sleeps a lot in daytime. John is happier now because she is quieter and she seems to be better. Ironically, her condition is not the same as what he thinks because she is becoming a good pretender by now. By the time she figures out that the patterns are bars and the unclear image behind them is a woman, she starts to see herself. She has been going through the ¡§unheard of contradiction,¡¨ like the wallpaper. Her creeping around the room like the woman when no one is there symbolizes the women¡¦s status in the society. Women have been forced to give way in the male-dominated society, so they have to hide their feeling of resistance. On the last day, she decides to get the woman out from the wall and starts tearing off the wallpaper, which represents bar. By the time John comes back, she is totally insane. She realizes that the woman is herself.
  Still now, in our society, people hold certain expectations toward each gender. Man has to be strong and unemotional so that he can support his family physically and financially. Best of all, he has to have a prestigious job like a physician. On the other hand, woman is supposed to be weaker, emotional and responsible of taking care of the family, so she has to quit her job after marriage. John and his brother match the expectations of gender perfectly as well as Jennie. She once wants to adjust herself into these expectations but deep inside her heart, she cries for independence. I wonder what is in her mind when Jennie seems to study the wallpaper. At the end, she quits believing in John and thinks that all his loving and kind words hypocritical. It is sad about what has happened to her because she seems to trade her sanity for freedom.


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