The Yellow Wallpaper Narrator Analysis

Instructions for the assignment

With Gilman, once again we have an author playing with form. For this discussion question, address the following:

What exactly are we reading? Given the way in which this story is told, what does Gilman expect us to believe we have picked up? Is this a standard narrative? How does this form suit the mental illness of the main character (consider our previous discussions of form and function)? What is the cause of the protagonist’s mental illness? Is there something this lead character is reaching for that could save her? Is there someone denying her solace? What would it take for this character to recover?

Sample Essay Answer

In Gilman’s Yellow Wall-Paper, we read a journal written by a narrator, who is a woman. The narrative has some characteristics of a standard narrative since it has a protagonist, who is the narrator. It is, however, not the standard narrative that we often read. This is because unlike other narrative that comprise of flowing paragraphs and complex sentences, this narrative comprises of many choppy sentences. For example, the narrator states, “There were greenhouses, too, but they are all broken now” (Gilman, 1892). The use of the unstandardized method of narration suits the narrator’s mental illness because it shows the reader that she has both good days and bad days because of the mental illness. This form helps make the mental illness more real to the reader and makes the situation relatable.

The narrator’s mental illness is accelerated by the lack of interaction with other members of the society as well as the failure to work. According to the physician that attends to her, she is supposed to rest from working to get better. However, she feels that the lack of a social life along with the rest requirement makes her feel haunted and lost in her thoughts. Her husband does not make things easier for her since he forbids her from talking about her condition, which only adds to the frustration that further keeps her from recovering. However, writing the journal gives her solace and though she finds it exhausting, because she has to hide from everyone while writing, it helps her by occupying her mind. Her husband should, therefore, be more supportive to ensure quick recovery. The support should entail encouraging her to do things that she finds exciting and that occupy her mind. He should further try to understand the illness from her point of view to help her meet her needs and recover easily. Interacting with other people would also be good for her, thus, they should move to an area that is well populated to increase her interactions with other people other than her husband.

Reference

Gilman, C., P. (1892). “The Yellow Wallpaper”. In The Story and its Writer. An Introduction to Short Fiction, edited by Ann Charters, 2015, pp. 392-403.

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