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Yellow Wallpaper Essay Research Paper The importance

Yellow Wallpaper Essay, Research Paper

The importance of the wallpaper in "The Yellow Wallpaper", and the

‘three’ sides of Jane The ‘trio’ in Jane In Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s "The

Yellow Wallpaper", Gilman makes direct or indirect reference to objects

which play a symbolic role within the context of the story and elucidate its

thematic fibre, a fibre which revolves around the main character and whose

essence is integrated in her inner constitution. Thus, in order to come to terms

with the story and draw certain conclusions based on this fibre, it is crucial

to examine these objects and what they symbolise within this thematic fibre and

obtain a better understanding of the main character. The main object which forms

the backdrop to this fibre and generates the thread of action is the wallpaper

itself, a mirror image of the heroine Jane and her cohesive selves, an opaque

medium into the subdivisions of her own mind. Jane, who is also the narrator of

the story and its centre of consciousness, is recounting her domesticated and

repressed way of life, as well as her husband’s treatment of her as a result of

her postpartum depression. What emerges, however, from Jane’s exposition,

becomes a sinister paradox open to diverse interpretation, for what comes to the

surface as a result of Jane’s constant obsession with the wallpaper is an

unnerving sense that she is suffering not only from postpartum depression, but

also from multiple schizophrenia. Her own narration in effect becomes an

egocentric psychoanalysis where the fibre of her identities can be divested and

detached little by little by the reader, and constant references to the

wallpaper allow for this process since it is the wallpaper itself which forms

the fibre of Jane’s selves. One such instance is when Jane claims that the

wallpaper changes color by night: "By moonlight- the moon shines in all

night when there is a moon- I wouldn’t know it was the same paper." Here,

very clearly, we have a juxtaposition of two dissociated identities, with the

change in the color of the wallpaper stressing the shift in both identity and

role. Jane’s delirium is set off by her constant shifting or playing off of self

from one ego to the other. At night a different self emerges and, since the

wallpaper is nothing other than a projection of Jane’s selves, it becomes

feasible that the wallpaper should also change aspect as one Jane is played off

against the other. Furthermore, in several cases of the disease which Jane seems

to show signs of, the patient loses sight of one personality as the other sets

in. Hence it would be logical for Jane not to recognise the paper since it is a

side of her which becomes disconnected from her conscious mind as soon as the

transformation has taken place. One of Freud’s theories in psychoanalysis is

very explicit about this dissociation. Freud, for instance, claims that systems

of thought can be split off from each other and congeal into a secondary

personality that is unconscious: "We have come upon something in the ego

itself which is also unconscious, which behaves exactly like the repressed- that

is, which produces powerful effects without itself being conscious and which

requires special work before it can be made conscious." (Sigmund Freud’s

The Ego and the Id, 1923, pgs. 8-9) In simple terms, repression in Freudian

psychoanalysis is visualized as the split between the conscious and unconscious

minds. Separate and dissociated aspects of consciousness may exist, but they are

in constant conflict. The subliminal tries to emerge on the surface. The

wallpaper in The Yellow Wallpaper is ‘repression’; it incorporates two planes of

consciousness within Jane’s own mind, two planes in battle. The repressed and

unconscious self behind that wallpaper is struggling to come out, but it

‘requires special work before it can be made conscious, and this can be seen in

the violent struggle which occurs at the transition phase: "I pulled and

she shook. I shook and she pulled, and before morning we had peeled off yards of

that paper." Here the narrator’s words reveals more than an intensity of

the obsessed mind. The use of words such as "shook" and

"pulled" suggest the battle between the conscious and the unconscious,

the power which thrusts the unconscious into being. The wallpaper again reflects

two planes of consciousness, but as it is divested by the conscious side of

Jane, the repressed and unconscious side can take the role of the conscious.

Also, the fact that" pulled" and "shook" switch roles in the

struggle, with "I pulled" turning into "I shook" and the

same evident shift with "she"- the secondary personality- shows the

submergence of the selves, with the wallpaper as medium. ET Aul, who suffers

from this disease commonly known as Multiple Personality Disorder, has written

in her autobiography As You Desire Me: The Psychology of a Multiple Personality:

"Those with dissociated identities, with "split" personalities,

are locked into one or more roles, and their changes from role to role are

dictated by their circumstances rather than their own choice. The change may be

completely out of their control and they may, or may not, be aware of it."

Hence, Jane’s struggle, or transition, is beyond her control and she cannot be

aware of it. "I wouldn’t know it was the same paper" proves this- she

is not aware of the two planes of consciousness within her own mind anymore than<br...

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