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Describe the narrators predicament and her families response to it in "The Yellow...

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adam20s | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 5, 2012 at 8:46 PM via web

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Describe the narrators predicament and her families response to it in "The Yellow Wallpaper". 

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Michelle Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 6, 2012 at 12:14 AM (Answer #1)

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The narrator of Charlotte Perkins Gillman's short story "The Yellow Wallpaper" is an unnamed married woman who has purportedly just given birth to her first child. The narrative is a recount of her experience as she is taken to an estate to undergo what was then known as "the rest cure". The reason why the woman needs the "rest cure" is because, from what the reader can infer, she is suffering from what we known in modern days as "post partum depression". The feelings that often arise as a result of post partum depression include melancholy, anxiety, and sometimes even psychosis.

The narrator's predicament is not so much what she is suffering (although that is bad enough), but the fact that her needs are not being met, and that her wants are not understood. For example, her husband strictly believes that, in order to achieve a cure for the woman, she must not have any kind of stimuli. This entailed taking away the woman's journals, her books, paper, writing supplies, and anything that would stimulate her mind. The problem with this is that it was making the woman even more anxious and desperate; after all, it is through writing and meditating that a cure to anxiety is more likely to be found.

The fact that nobody seems to "listen" to the needs of the woman is an allegory to the limited rights of women to care for themselves and have a position of authority regarding their own bodies, their own wants, and their own necessities. The woman was literally losing her mind by being left to her own devices in the upper room of the house, where even the yellow wallpaper was becoming an enemy in her book. Therefore, her predicament is that she is trapped physically and socially and that her family merely follows along with what "society" claims to know about women and apply it to the poor main character without thinking about it twice.

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