Self expression is one of humanity’s greatest gifts. It is very important that humans express themselves in many different ways, whether it is writing in a journal, painting, singing, or just speaking with someone. Holding in one’s feelings can be unhealthy and it can lead to depression, anxiety, or insanity. In “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, the narrator, an upper-class woman rebels against her husband’s “cure” for her depression, which forbade her to exercise her imagination.
She keeps a secret journal in which she records her thoughts and fascination about the yellow wallpaper. As a result of the mental restrictions placed upon her, she loses control over reality. Writing in a journal can be used as a tool to express oneself. A journal can become a safe space to help release anxious thoughts and negative feelings. In “The Yellow Wallpaper, the narrator writes in her journal, “I cry at nothing, and cry most of the time. Of course I don’t when John is here, or anybody else, but when I am alone.
And I am alone a good deal just now (Gilman 428). One may suggest that the narrator is a very lonely person who hides her true feelings from her husband and everyone else. Her husband shows no interest of her thoughts or concerns for the conditions she is living under. So she continues to hide her depression and uses a journal as her emotional outlet, but her imagination gets the best of her. Not expressing oneself can consequently lead to depression, anxiety, or insanity. For this reason it is important to exercise one’s imagination.
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In “The Yellow Wallpaper”, the narrator is forbidden to do anything active and to not exercise her mind in any way. She directs her attention towards the yellow wallpaper and becomes obsessive over it. “All night in any kind of light, in twilight, candlelight, lamplight, and worst of all by moonlight it becomes bars! The outside pattern I mean, and the women behind it is as plain as can be” (431). The narrator feels enclosed in her room and thinks the patterns in the wallpaper are bars of a cage.
She stares at the wallpaper for long periods of time and discovers a woman behind the pattern. One may suggest that she is the women behind the patterns trying to break free. In her last journal entry, she stated, “I pulled and she shook, I shook and she pulled, and before morning we had peeled yards of that paper” (433). Peeling off “that paper” on could suggest that she is unraveling the pattern of her domesticated life. Furthermore, in order for the narrator to understand herself, she loses her sanity.
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