The Yellow Wallpaper: a Stifling Relationship

1631 words 7 pages
Husband-Doctor: A Stifling Relationship In Gilman's "the Yellow Wallpaper"
At the beginning of "The Yellow Wallpaper", the protagonist, Jane, has just given birth to a baby boy. Although for most mothers a newborn infant is a joyous time, for others, like Jane, it becomes a trying emotional period that is now popularly understood to be the common disorder, postpartum depression. For example, Jane describes herself as feeling a "lack of strength" (Colm, 3) and as becoming "dreadfully fretful and querulous" (Jeannette and Morris, 25). In addition, she writes, "I cry at nothing and cry most of the time" (Jeannette and Morris, 23).

However, as the term postpartum depression was not in the vocabulary of this time period, John, Jane's
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He said I was his darling and his comfort and all he had, and that I must take care of myself for his sake, and keep well" (Kristeva).

John's suppression of Jane's efforts to gain control of her own life through her choice of medicine—"less opposition and more society and stimulus" (Gilbert and Gubar) and the opportunity to write in her own words—reflects the more general oppression of Jane, as a woman and as a mentally ill person, by the patriarchal nature of the relationship with her husband. However, although John has faith in what he believes to be the logical, Reality-based strength of his resolve, incidents such as the one discussed above show that the Symbolic Order does not gather its strength from the logic of Reality but from the patriarchal tradition that engendered it. From this viewpoint, even the nonpsychotic woman who, according to Lacan, has been able to constitute herself fully within this order may either fail to recognize or choose to reject the supposed logic a part of in this patriarchal relationship.

In conclusion, Because Jane, as the woman in the wallpaper, does escape from the wallpaper, she believes she has succeeded in creating her own relationship with John. At the end of the story, we see, in fact, that Jane does not belong to the same world or have the same identity as earlier. She says to John, "‘I've got out at last, … in spite of you and Jane. And I've pulled off most of the wallpaper, so you can't put me back'" (Tripathi, 65).

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