The Yellow Wallpaper

Out from Behind the Bars: A Woman's Escape through Madness

Charlotte Gilman's story "The Yellow Wallpaper" focuses on the slow mental degeneration of a young woman forced to undergo the "rest cure," examining both the causes and the nature of her madness. Shortly after moving into a new place of residence, the narrator of the story -- who remains unnamed throughout -- begins experiencing vivid fantasies and delusions focused on her surroundings, all extremely violent and disturbing in nature. Though such frightening visions may seem like undesirable indications of a severely disturbed mind, they are ultimately beneficial to the narrator. The violence depicted in her fantasies is a direct consequence of the violence that exists in her reality, as she projects the qualities of her husband, the dominant force in her life, into her environment. The delusions, which may appear harmful to most, are in fact a source of hope for the narrator as she moves through a painful existence. They serve as a way to help her escape the psychological violence inflicted upon her by her husband, literally providing her with a way out of the real world into an imagined world where she is, ultimately, the one in control.

The narrator of "The Yellow Wallpaper" leads such a...

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