The Yellow Wallpaper

Perceptions and Reality in The Yellow Wallpaper

In Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper”, Jane’s skewed perceptions of her surroundings, caretakers, and mental state reflect her refusal to confront the reality of her confinement to a mental institution. Supposed husband and physician, John believes “a colonial mansion, a hereditary estate” or in other words a mental asylum, seems like the perfect environment for his wife Jane (Gilman, “The Yellow Wallpaper” 221). From Jane’s perspective, she resides in the old “nursery” at the top of an “ancestral hall for the summer” due to an unspecific psychological illness and being treated by her husband and sister in law. In Jane’s writings, she expresses belief and gratitude that her “case is not serious” (“The Yellow Wallpaper” 222). However, Jane has the wrong perception of her mental health and unfortunately, the serene environment will not provide the rest needed from the daily strain of life. In reality, this isolated atmosphere is such a forced solitary confinement like that of mental asylums that it eventually envelops Jane in her insanity.

Jane’s surroundings are possibly the strongest evidence to her confinement in a mental institute rather than her perceived “colonial mansion”. Dwyer states that “asylums were...

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