What is wrong with the narrator?

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M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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The nameless narrator and protagonist in Charlotte Perkins Gilman's short story "The Yellow Wallpaper" is a woman who has recently given birth to a first child and is suffering what seems to be an intense bout of post-partum depression.

The main problem of the narrator, however, is not the condition alone. It is the manner in which it is being treated. Instead of receiving moral and emotional support, our main character is treated as if her feebleness comes as a result of her gender and from an illness. She is taken to a rented home far away and is left in basic isolation inside a room. She is deprived of her therapeutic needs, such as reading and writing. She is even deprived of her child, who is taken to another room. Her husband and her doctor both agree that the narrator is simply going through some phase and they disregard completely the real needs of this poor woman.

It is both ignorance and arrogance what lead to this debacle. The arrogance of men treating women as secondary citizens leads to their overall ignorance as to what women need. The narrator, eventually, loses her mind. The yellow wallpaper with which the room was covered begins to give ideas to her already disturbed mind. In it, she sees herself as a woman trapped within the yellow wallpaper.

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