The most worthwhile texts aim to challenge the status quo (“the way things are now”).
“In a patriarchal society like ours, women have to fight hard for a seat at the table. Boys are privileged over girls from birth. Equal opportunity for both girls and boys must become the norm.” - Shabana Azmi. This quote perfectly mesmerises the essence of the development and creation of the text, The Yellow Wallpaper written and published by Charlotte Perkins Gilman in 1892. Gilman’s text is an inspiring piece that was primarily created to express her feelings about her real-life experience of suffering from postpartum depression in a patriarchal society. The text is worthwhile because it sheds light onto the readers to view things from another perspective hence challenging the status quo.
The short story elapses and shows insight into the reader’s mind, where the narrator’s condition from already suffering from postpartum depression decays and forces her to enter troublesome deep stages of psychosis. The narrator’s husband referred to as John in the short story is one with high-standing position as a practicing physician. The short story unfolds many in depth aspects of inequities and barriers faced by women during the early nineteenth century. The ideas of patriarchy, oppression, and detrimental effects on well-being are evidently unpacked through the development of the short story.
Through the opening of the short story, the narrator is having a hard time coping, given the fact that she had just given birth to a newborn. John notices the abrupt change in behaviour and recognises that it is attributable to the narrator suffering from postpartum depression. John’s incentive is to precribe the narrator a ‘temporary rest cure’ where both the narrator and John move to a country estate while the narrator is forced to recover in an atrocious nursery. The narrator is belittled by her patriarchal husband, “John laughs at me, of course, but one expects that in marriage.” This elucidates the dominance of the male population during the early nineteenth century having authoritative powers over their wives. John is to not be blamed for his patriarchal attitude, as the way he was brought up in a patriarchal society resulted in John to adopt the patriarchy. The narrator is suppressed from conveying her feelings, which is made evident in the text “You see he does not believe I am sick! And what can one do?” The exclamotary indicates the frustration the narrator is facing through the lack of self expression and being disregarded for her concerns. The rhetoric leaves the narrator questioning her options from escaping this form of patriarchal treatment. The narrator intentionally uses these quotes to depict to the readers, the struggles of which many women faced. Reinstating the thesis, it is clear that in the past women faced many forms of brutal treatment agaisnt their male figures in their lives and had no way of escaping. In present time, women have a lot more freedom to express their emotions and feelings. It can be agreed that The Yellow Wallpaper is a worthwhile text, as it helps readers to explore deeper into history events and treatment. Where readers are able to gain insight into the positive changes in present time.
Diving further into the depths of the text, the normalites of societal gender roles forces the narrator to face oppression from John. This is shown when the narrator states “There comes John, and I must put this away - he hates to have me write a word.” The patriarchy and oppression go hand to hand, the narrator uses a journal which eases her mind from troublesome hallucinations. However, John see’s it as the reason for the detoriation of the narrator’s condition and disregards her from using the Journal in hinge eyesight. With secrecy the narrator continues to use the journal. “So I take phosphates or phosphites - whichever it is, and tonics, and journeys, and air, and exercise, and am absolutely forbidden to ‘work’ until I am well again.” This quote highlights the oppression the narrator faces through her diagnosis of a ‘temporary rest cure’ where the narrator is forced upon to take unnecessary medication. The nature of oppression is still an issue of today’s society as there are misogynists who believe men are superior than women. The text proves to be worthwhile as it enables readers to gain an understanding of women being mistreated in the early nineteenth century. To date a positive change has occurred on the treatments women recieve, however there is still work to be done, such as equal pay and more opportunities.
Through the ending of the text, we see the mental status of the narrator decline exponentially. The lack of freedom and mental stimulation contribute greatly to the deterioration of the narrator’s condition. The nursery is a small confined space where barred windows makes the narrator feel like she is imprisoned. The restrictions imposed on her makes her feel lonely and isolated. She states “I wish I could get well faster.” The preaching for normality is desired as the constraints placed by the rest cure does not allow the narrator any sense of freedom. “I am getting angry enough to do something desperate. To jump out of the window.” This shows the urgency that the narrator needs to have some form of entertainment and stimulation as the yellow wallpaper is causing her unwanted emotions. The prolonged urgency to react to the narrator’s concern’s led to an undesired situation where the narrator succumbs to her delusions. John finds the narrator in an unpleasant situation where she is crawling around the nursery. He cannot believe what he is witnessing, his immediate response is to faint. This shows that society’s acceptance to mental health and wellbeing are important aspects of life which should be treated without embarrassment or guilt. The consequences for the protagonist unable to express her self teaches the audience a valuable lesson. Failing to act on ones concerns on their mental health and wellbeing can lead to a detrimental unwanted scenario like the one witnessed in the text. With ones perception, The Yellow Wallpaper is manifested to be a worthwhile text to read. This is because it shows the dire consequences of failing to initiate equal and appropriate treatment. Nowadays, women are more accepted in roles which were heavily dominated by males. The terms mental health and well-being are more widely recognised and is taught in schools, workplaces etc. This is a positive change from what was once disregarded by society in the early nineteenth century.
To conclude, The Yellow Wallpaper is a worthwhile text to read as it enables readers to think from a different viewpoint and challenge the current status quo. The patriarchy, oppression, and well-being are deeply explored in the text. The audience will notice the brutal harsh treatments women faced during the early nineteenth century and will see that things have positively changed from what is use to be. Despite there being work still yet to be completed to accomplish equity, this is a good start to ensuring fairness is met. Therefore, The Yellow Wallpaper is a good investment for a read as the text portrays significant ideas that make it worthwhile.