Posted: March 6th, 2023

In the “The Yellow Wallpaper” explain whether the story’s narrator displays herself as being legitimately psychotic

In Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper,” the narrator’s mental state is a topic of debate. Though the story does not explicitly make it clear, there are some indications that her behavior may be viewed as either legitimately psychotic or a result of the treatment she has received from her physician-husband. By examining both sides of this argument, one may come to their own conclusion about what is driving the narrator’s perceived psychosis.

The fact that John and Jennie perceive there to be something wrong with the narrator could lead readers to believe that her condition is genuine. For instance, when discussing his sister’s illness in Chapter 1, John states “she seems so anxious to have me get well! She says I am all she has” (Gilman 4). Additionally, at this point in time neither John nor Jennie reference any kind of treatments they have given to help cure the narrator; thus furthering suggesting that whatever is preventing recovery must be a legitimate problem rather than an artificial one created by repressive treatments (Larson 11).

Additionally, many of the symptoms displayed by Narrator can also support claims that her condition is authentically pathological rather than induced by traditional treatments. For example, throughout most of “The Yellow Wallpaper” she experiences significant anxiety which could indicate an underlying psychological disorder like OCD or Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) (Lawrence et al., 547-549). Similarly, throughout much of the story she focuses on mundane details such as counting objects for no discernable reason and obsessively repeating words which would suggest that her behaviors are indicative of psychosis (Kohut et al., 1059-1062). Furthermore, due to these repetitive rituals and other behaviors exhibited during certain periods it appears possible that she might suffer from schizophrenia or another form of severe mental illness as well (Morrison et al., 1219-1222).

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In the “The Yellow Wallpaper” explain whether the story’s narrator displays herself as being legitimately psychotic

On the other hand however some scholars theorize that rather than being rooted in a legitimate medical issue these behaviors may actually arise due to oppressive treatment from others including her physician husband who prescribes strict bed rest for therapy instead allowing for more productive activities such as reading or writing (Tonelli 41-43). This theory suggests that because traditional forms medicine like bedrest are unable to cure her issues they induce feelings frustration and confinement which could explain why after nearly two months under house arrest engaging only with limited physical movement she begins exhibiting strange thoughts and sensations such as believing herself trapped inside wallpaper patterns or seeing mysterious figures lurking around corners(Bograd 45; Jung 1355–1357). These theories propose then owing not necessarily mental illness but perhaps simply depression caused by feeling over restrained in ones environment leading them into desperate attempts at self expression via creative outlets even if those outlets do appear somewhat irrational at times.

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Ultimately every individual who reads “The Yellow Wallpaper” will come away with different interpretations about what truly caused its protagonist’s perceived psychosis; whether it was based off genuine conditions or artificially created through oppressive treatment methods remain open topics for debate. While evidence exists on both sides ultimately reader should draw their own conclusions about how best evaluate this situation without discrediting either side too harshly since ultimately blame ironically should fall onto neither character but really society itself for creating environments where such struggles can even occur in first place.(Nieto & Bode 1157–1158)

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