Postpartum Depression And Gilman Yellow Wallpaper Research Paper

PAGES
4
WORDS
1376
Cite

Long before the term postpartum depression became part of the vernacular, Charlotte Perkins Gilman deftly and sensitively describes the complex condition in her short story “The Yellow Wallpaper.” The story describes the prevailing attitudes towards women and their narrowly defined roles in society. White, upper middle class women like the narrator of “The Yellow Wallpaper” could not easily express discontent with their position as wife and mother. The narrator’s husband—a physician—believes there is “nothing the matter” with his wife except “temporary nervous depression” and “a slight hysterical tendency,” (Gilman 648). Noting her brother is also a physician, the narrator exclaims, “But what is one to do,” when one is just a woman, and therefore a subordinate whose total financial and social dependency on their male counterparts precludes their self-determination (Gilman 649). To address her “hysteria,” the narrator’s husband and brother confine her to a pleasant enough country home, but restrict her actions to one room in the house—notably and symbolically, a nursery with the titular yellow wallpaper. Prevented from exercising, let alone socializing, the narrator falls ever deeper into her despair and depression. The story highlights the problems with a paternalistic medical system and a patriarchal social system. More than a hundred years after its publication, “The Yellow Wallpaper” continues to resonate for its general implications for feminism and social justice, and also for its specific applications to psychology and treatments for mental illness. Postpartum depression represents a convergence of psychological and sociological issues; it is as related to individual level variables as it is to the overarching social norms that create identity conflicts, anxiety, and mood disorders in some individuals. According to Beck, about 13 percent of new mothers experience postpartum depression: hardly an insignificant number (282). In fact, the increased awareness about postpartum depression has spilled over into the medical and psychiatric communities in search of more effective, evidence-based solutions. One study actually uses “The Yellow Wallpaper” to bolster a lecture on postpartum depression given to medical school students (Tucker, Crow, Cuccio, et al., 247). Assessing the methods used by physicians in Gilman’s day to those...

...

Psychologists also present several different theoretical orientations that can be used to frame postpartum depression, including the medical model, feminist theory, attachment theory, interpersonal theory, and self-labeling theory (Beck 282). The narrator of “The Yellow Wallpaper” can also be analyzed in light of these various theories. Feminist theory highlights the means by which the men in the narrator’s life effectively punish and imprison her for not expressing the emotions deemed suitable for a new mother. She is forbidden to “work,” but the “rest treatment” prescribed to women like the narrator accomplishes an overarching goal: to suppress the individuation and self-empowerment of women through their writing and political activism (Treichler 61). Self-labeling theory and the medical model converge in Gilman’s short story, in the way the narrator self-identifies as being “sick,” while also acknowledging that she needs stimulation, excitement, and the therapeutic act of writing more than she needs the artifice of rest (Gilman 648). Interpersonal theory shows how the narrator’s identity is constructed through social interactions. In “The Yellow Wallpaper,” the narrator expresses conflicting feelings about her husband: she admits he is “careful and loving,” and might actually mean well in his treatment of her but he is also patently neglectful, disrespectful, and patronizing in ways that would have been normative for men in the nineteenth century (Gilman 648). For example, the husband is out for long hours treating other patients out of town, and he never listens to what his wife has to say, refusing to even open his heart to the possibility of empathy and understanding.
To prescribe social withdrawal rather than connectivity with other women seems counterintuitive, and yet that is precisely what the husband and brother team of physicians do in “The Yellow Wallpaper.” Current treatment practices are totally divergent from those used in the late nineteenth century, a time when “hysteria” and “depression” were considered “women’s diseases,” and…

Cite this Document:

"Postpartum Depression And Gilman Yellow Wallpaper" (2018, July 30) Retrieved June 24, 2024, from
https://www.paperdue.com/essay/postpartum-depression-and-gilman-yellow-wallpaper-research-paper-2171903

"Postpartum Depression And Gilman Yellow Wallpaper" 30 July 2018. Web.24 June. 2024. <
https://www.paperdue.com/essay/postpartum-depression-and-gilman-yellow-wallpaper-research-paper-2171903>

"Postpartum Depression And Gilman Yellow Wallpaper", 30 July 2018, Accessed.24 June. 2024,
https://www.paperdue.com/essay/postpartum-depression-and-gilman-yellow-wallpaper-research-paper-2171903

Related Documents

If that is indeed the case, again her societal position afforded her this opportunity although it was in no way an intervention. She voiced some concern through tears in the quiet of the night. However, Scott points out that this submissive positioning exemplified in the story only served to support the diminished position of women during the time. Ecological adaptation equates to diminished female capacity for Scott and any

As the narrator is denied access to the world and the normal expression of her individuality, so she becomes a true prisoner of the room with the yellow wallpaper. Her life and consciousness becomes more restricted until the wallpaper becomes an animated world to her. There is also the implied suggestion in this process of a conflict between the rational and logical world, determined and controlled by male consciousness, and

Her account of his complete discounting of her expressed needs, (which he dismisses without a second thought), as well as her description of his attitude toward her engaging in any sort of productive work or mentally stimulating activity or social relationships of any kind also suggest that the protagonist is, on some level if not consciously, aware that her physician husband's wisdom may be lacking with respect to what is

Yellow Wallpaper" and Mental Illness in Women Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper" is an important short story that delves into the issue of mental illness. It illustrates how women and their problems are trivialized, with this closely related to the role that women have in society. Through the story, it is seen that women become prisoners of their mental illness because the medical community will not help them. This

Yellow Wallpaper How the antagonist in "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins contributes to the story's overall meaning. The physician's wife is the main character and has just given birth. She suffers from postpartum depression, but the husband tries his best to treat her. Her husband prescribes a pattern of treatment that requires her to be locked in a bedroom with a yellow paper that is lurid. The main character is

Charlotte Perkins Gilman�s �The Yellow Wallpaper�:A Decent into Madness or Feminist Liberation or Both?Charlotte Perkins Gilman�s �The Yellow Wallpaper� chronicles the so-called rest cure of a nameless woman who has just given birth. The woman�s physician-husband supervises the cure, during which the narrator is denied all mental stimulation. Rather than growing less anxious, the woman instead becomes more restive and miserable. Her mind, denied the mental outlet she craves, looks