Jane’s Postpartum Depression in The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

The Evidence Is in the Paper

Picture being locked in a space, with no outside interaction, except for the rare discussions with a housemaid or hubby. Add in a bout of postpartum depression and an overbearing other half to have the story of Jane, a lady in nineteenth-century America. She is the primary character and narrator of the short story, “The Yellow Wallpaper,” written by Charlotte Perkins Stetson. Jane is likewise a brand-new mom who falls under a case of child blues, and is put into isolation by her husband to try and treat her. Sadly, his efforts have an adverse impact and she spirals into madness, ending up being unhealthily obsessed with the yellow wallpaper in the space she is caught in. This fixation comes from a variety of aspects, including her postpartum depression, her isolation, and her spouse’s misdiagnosis.

The main cause of Jane’s deformed perception is her postpartum anxiety, which is defined by the National Institute of Mental Health as: “a state of mind disorder that can affect females after childbirth … [those suffering] experience sensations of extreme unhappiness, stress and anxiety, and fatigue that might make it challenging for them to complete day-to-day care activities” (NIMH). Her hubby, John, is a doctor and explains it as a “momentary anxious anxiety,” and claims that it gives her a “small hysterical propensity” (Gilman 648). Jane’s depression is most incapacitating at the start of the story. Her mood is unstable, as she mentions that she would “get unreasonably upset with John … I was sure I never ever utilized to be this sensitive” (Gilman 648). Her state of mind swings reveal that her psychological health is starting to intensify. Later, she establishes an intense stress and anxiety and it emerges when she explains her interactions with her child. During the nineteenth century, postpartum anxiety was not acknowledged as a legitimate health condition, so Jane’s confusion with her child blues is totally easy to understand. She relates her experiences surrounding her infant stating, “Such a dear child! And yet I can not be with him, it makes me so worried!” (Gilman 648). Jane’s anxiety with her child certainly distresses her which adds to the psychological weight on her.

Jane’s capability to think realistically begins to deteriorate once she discovers the yellow wallpaper. She seems to get irrationally bothered by the disparity of the pattern to the point where she states: “I positively upset with the impertinence of it and the everlastingness” (649 ). Her habits in the very first 2 examples can be considered as those of a nervous person and do not fall too far outside the realm of neurotypicality. However, in the last example, it is clear that her grasp on her emotions is starting to slip. Her illogical irritation with an inanimate object shows the idea that Jane’s bad moods might be connected to something much deeper.

Ultimately, Jane’s depression paves the way into psychosis, a more sinister course. She develops an unhealthy fascination with the yellow wallpaper in the room that she is residing in. From the beginning, Jane does reveal an abnormally strong distaste towards it, describing its color as, “repellant, nearly revolting; a smouldering unclean yellow, oddly faded by the slow-turning sunshine. It is a dull yet lurid orange in some places, a sickly sulphur tint in others” (Gilman 649). After a long description of the room she lives in, she shares that she can see a remaining in the wall. She states: “However in the places where it isn’t faded and where the sun is so– I can see an odd, provoking, formless sort of figure, that seems to skulk about behind that silly and conspicuous front style” (Gilman 650). At this moment, it is obvious to the reader that Jane is falling into a bout of psychosis. Her fall under this dark hole is not triggered by her anxiety. As her time in the room advances, so does her fixation. Jane’s time in the space is lonesome, and with no stimuli other than for the periodic conversation with John or his sibling. Besides that, she has no interaction with anybody for twenty-four hours a day. Jane’s anxiety may have started her mental disorder, however it is not what caused her hallucinations. She loses her grip on truth since of under stimulation.

Because Jane is not interacting with anything or anyone, her imagination ends up being hyper and she starts to hallucinate, and the odd figure from before is determined as a mystical woman. Jane continues to see the imaginary female more frequently, describing her as, “constantly sneaking, and most females do not sneak by daylight” (Gilman 654). Eventually, the weeks of isolation push Jane past her breaking point and she falls into complete psychosis. She declines the outdoors world since “for outside you have to sneak on the ground, and everything is green instead of yellow” (Gilman 656). She continues, telling her erratic habits by stating: “But here I can creep efficiently on the flooring, and my shoulder simply suits that long smooch around the wall, so I can not lose my way” (Gilman 656). These two sentences ruin any doubt that Jane still has a sliver of sanity left. The relationship between the quantity of seclusion Jane suffered through and her madness is not a coincidence. Rather, their relation is cause and effect; Jane’s time alone in the space is the cause, and her mental break is the effect.

Despite the above reasons, the true issue that triggers the storyteller, Jane, to fall under her psychological degeneracy is her partner, John. In the beginning of the story, Jane is detected with hysterical anxiety by John. She explains his idea of treatment by sharing all the medicine she has to take, such as: “phosphates or phosphites whichever it is, and tonics, and journeys, and air, and exercise, and I am definitely prohibited to “work” until I am well once again” (Gilman 648). In the nineteenth century, ladies’s psychological health was disregarded and most legitimate conditions were rejected as a brief episode of hysteria. This triggered lots of ladies to be dealt with incorrectly, frequently under one blanket treatment of isolation which tended to be incredibly detrimental to their health. 2 psychologists from the University of Wisconsin validates this in their paper, explaining the treatment the women in the 19th century withstood. They mention, “Between the years of 1850-1900, women were positioned in mental institutions for acting in ways that male society did not agree with. Women during this time duration had very little rights, even worrying their own psychological health” (Pouba and Tianen 95). Some could say that John is a symbol of the patriarchy in this story. It is not a far stretch to believe this, as his actions towards Jane suggest that he might be overbearing in their relationship. John does not appear to worth Jane’s viewpoint about her own health, as she states that, “John makes fun of me, obviously, but one expects that in marital relationship” (Gilman 647). She seems to have actually experienced a lot of ridicule from her spouse as she normalizes it as a regular part of marriage. He does reveal a great deal of affection towards Jane; she shares an interaction she had, mentioning, “He said I was his darling and his convenience and all he had, and that I should look after myself for his sake” (Gilman 652). Although he is sweet to Jane, he still shows self-centered reasoning behind his desire for her to be well. It is revealing of his character, as it reveals him to be self-centered and misleading. John may have believed he was assisting the circumstance, however like the patriarchy, he wound up ending up being a self-important existence to Jane and disregarded her well-being, all of which only pushed Jane into a poor mental state.

In general, Jane’s fall into madness is not her fault. Her postpartum depression, her seclusion, and her other half’s bad understanding of her condition all add to her psychosis. Her baby blues are what cause her to be in an unhealthy mindset, and it is only perpetuated by the under stimulation she experiences through being locked in her space. All of this could have been prevented if her husband had taken her opinion into factor to consider in the first place. As a whole, this story, although fictitious, shows the mistreatment of ladies and the unfavorable effects it can have.