Sunday, January 31, 2010
I really enjoyed the readings that we did in class this week. I particularly enjoyed The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. While I was reading it, I thought it was weird and interesting. I was trying to make sense of it while I was reading and I took everything pretty literally. After I read it and during class when we were discussing it, I realized just how freaky that story actually was. You know that the narrator has nervous depression, which causes her to be hysterical, and you know that she claims to have a husband and a baby. But she only claims to have a husband and a baby, and since the story is narrated by her you don’t get the perspectives of everyone else. You don’t know what is actually going on, which is maddening to me. Since the story is only from her point of view, and she has hysterical tendencies, how do you know she’s not just making stuff up? She could be in a mental hospital and be hallucinating about the baby and her husband. There is evidence that she was in a mental hospital because the floor and bed in that room she was staying in was all scratched up. The wallpaper was scratched off the walls in some places. There were bars on the windows and the bed was bolted to the floor. Maybe she was being treated and she imagined that the doctor treating her was her husband and that she had a baby. That’s just one alternate interpretation of the story. Another theory is that the story from the narrator’s point of view is the truth, and that it’s the yellow wallpaper in the room that caused her to go crazy. Maybe that’s why the room she was staying in was so beat up. Maybe she’s not the first person to have gone insane in that room. Also, I thought that the part where she would watch the wallpaper pattern and see a woman behind it was really weird. How do we know that the pattern is actually real? Maybe she’s so crazy that she made up the pattern. I think that the mental hospital explanation is the most probable explanation. Reading stories like this drive me mad because basically all of the background information is left up to the reader’s imagination. I also liked how Charlotte Perkins Gilman gave an explanation for writing something like this. It gave her story more meaning and I liked the purpose for her writing. During class I really liked how we made a connection between The Yellow Wallpaper and Virginia Woolf’s life by watching The Hours. I think it’s really interesting how similar Virginia Woolf’s struggle with depression is to the story told in The Yellow Wallpaper. I agree with Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s statement that people need all types of activity when they are depressed in order to not be driven insane. I think it’s really terrible that people who were wealthy enough used to send their wives or daughters out to secluded country houses in order to hide them from people if they were depressed or had mental illnesses.