What Event Caused the Narrator’s Mental Illness in The Yellow Wallpaper?

A

The Yellow Wallpaper is written from the perspective of a physician’s wife forced to a rest cure. She suffers from a “temporary nervous depression” after the birth of her child. In modern terms, it seems that she suffers from postpartum depression caused by a stressful pregnancy.

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The narrator of The Yellow Wallpaper is an unnamed housewife. Her husband confined the woman in a colonial mansion. The author describes her illness as a “temporary nervous depression—a slight hysterical tendency.” Its symptoms are increased mood swings which become worse because o isolation in a small room. This cruel confinement drives her to obsess over the yellow wallpaper and become mad.

The narrator mentions the fact that she gave birth not a long time ago. A modern mental analysis would suggest that her real problem was depression. At the time, doctors said it was a form of neurasthenia. They treated it through enforced isolation and idleness. From the modern point of view, such a “cure” would make the condition worse by failing to address it proactively. Isolation and lack of support from her husband worsened her mental health further.

The life story of the story’s author supports this belief of the protagonist’s state. The story was inspired by her own past of a woman with a mental illness. She experienced severe depression following the birth of her daughter Katharine. An attempt to follow the rest cure led to a decline in her mental state. Gilman wrote the story as a warning about the unwanted effects of the cure.

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"What Event Caused the Narrator’s Mental Illness in The Yellow Wallpaper?" Academic.Tips, 3 June 2021, academic.tips/question/what-event-caused-the-narrators-mental-illness-in-the-yellow-wallpaper/.

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