The Yellow Wallpaper Madness: A Breakdown Or Break Through?

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The Yellow Wallpaper
Madness: A Breakdown or Break Through?
The secret journal of an imaginative and creative woman tells her story of the suffering she endures while in treatment for “nervous” disorders. The Yellow Wallpaper (McMahan, Day and Funk) bares the horrific, often sadistic, treatment of mental disorders for women in the nineteenth century that drove one woman to insanity. The woman’s “temporary nervous depression – a slight hysterical tendency” (McMahan, Day and Funk 238) was remedied by the “rest cure”, a widespread method of treatment of the time period for woman suffering from nervous disorders. The rest cure required the woman to be removed from her home for prolonged periods of time, confined to lie flat on her back in bed, and allowed to see no one except the attending nurse and physician (Wood 31). To minimize intellectual stimulation, she was left alone most of the time, permitted neither to read nor write, nor express her thoughts and feelings with anyone. The woman’s husband, a high standing physician, oversees her care in a deserted rental estate. She is secluded to a barren bedroom on the top floor of the house with yellow patterned wallpaper
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Though it is obvious she is distressed, her thoughts are clear and logical. She disagrees with the dominate ideas of high-standing physicians diagnosis and treatment of her nervous condition. But she is just a woman, after all. “And what can one do?” (McMahan, Day and Funk 238). She identifies her husband’s supremacy over her by “hardly letting her stir without special direction” as “very careful and loving” (McMahan, Day and Funk 239), indicative of the male dominant American society at the time. She expresses her disapproval of the gaudy yellow wallpaper covering the walls of the room. “I never saw a worse paper in my life.” She writes, “One of those sprawling flamboyant patterns committing every artistic sin” (Wood