The Short story, ” The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, shows the reader that the theme of the story is, the main character is suffering from Schizophrenia. This theme could be supported throughout the story as the main character loses her grip of reality through her delusions with her health, her suppression by her husband, her paranoia of her own family members and her interactions with the wallpaper. The evidence of Schizophrenia is the main characters mental illness throughout the story. Though it does not mention what the main character has specifically it does reveal symptoms that supports Schizophrenia. According to the “National Institute of Mental Health” Schizophrenia is “a chronic and severe mental disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. People with Schizophrenia may seem like they have lost touch with reality.
“Throughout the story the main character has shown that she has lost some aspect of reality. One example is that she has made evident to the reader that she is sick when she state ” you see he does not believe I am sick!” (189) Speaking about her husband who is a physician, she truly believes that she is ill. She does not say it with a period at the end, she claim it with an exclamation mark.
That is the reality aspect, knowing that the individual is sick and does require help.Then contradicts herself by saying “I’m glad my case is not serious.” (191) Showing her sickness is making her lose her reality and confusing her. Another evidence that the author sufferers of Schizophrenia is the order of her husband to suppress herself. Whether in her activities or her imagination.
Throughout the story we see husband John telling his wife on what to do, what not to do, what she gets to do, where she gets to sleep, who to hang with and when she can do as she pleases. Even as to limit her own imagination “John has cautioned me not to give way to fancy in the least. He says that with my imaginative power and habit of story-making, a nervous weakness like mine is sure to lead to all manner of excited fancies, and that I ought to use my will and good sense to check the tendency.”(192) Even as simple as writing she cannot do.
‘There comes John, I must put this away- he hates to have me write a word’ (191) It seems as if the relationship between the two is not equal in terms of marriage but more of the dominant to the extreme and the main character being submissive. The relationship between the two can also be an authoritarian parent and a child who expects to obey all of the commands, even John asked Jennie to babysit her and give him daily reports of all the activities. According to the “National Institute of Mental Health” there can be some negative symptoms of Schizophrenia that also include the “reduced feelings of pleasure in everyday life.” In some aspect John is part of the cause of Schizophrenia by making the main character bored, limiting her activities and pleasure. More evidence that author shows symptoms of Schizophrenia is her paranoia. According to the dictionary of Cambridge, the definition of paranoia is “a mental condition characterized by delusions of persecution, unwarranted jealousy, or exaggerated self-importance, typically elaborated into an organized system…
a serious condition such as Schizophrenia in which the person loses touch with reality.” This is clearly evident when the author mentions of how glad she is that her baby does not have to stay in the room with the yellow wallpaper, the narrator says “Of course I never mention it to them anymore— I am too wise,— but I keep watch of it all the same” (195). Another example of her paranoia is she is afraid of the people or shows her mistrust of the people who are caring for her when she says “The fact is I am getting a little afraid of John. He seems very queer sometimes, and even Jennie has an inexplicable look” (196-197). At one point she catches Jennie looking at the yellow wallpaper. She says “I know she was studying that pattern, and I am determined that nobody shall find it out but myself!” (197). This kind of paranoia is a solid indicator that the narrator’s psychological state is deteriorating towards schizophrenia.
Finally what clearly makes it’s evident that the author is suffering from Schizophrenia is her interaction with the wallpaper. Of course one can say that her interaction with the wallpaper is not her being delusional or being crazy but, she is just using her imagination to pass the time because she is bored and her husband is a dictator. While it can be true that author is using her own imagination to pass the time, there is a fine line between imagination and delusions. To distinguish what the difference is between the two word, is to find the definition of both.
According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, the definition of imagination is “the faculty or action of forming new ideas, or images or concepts of external objects not present to the senses.” while delusions is “a belief or impression that is firmly maintained despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality or rational argument, typically a symptom of mental disorder.” Now knowing what both words are and what they mean, it can be determine if the narrator is being delusional or using her imagination. “There are things in that paper that nobody knows but me, or ever will. Behind that outside pattern the dim shapes get clearer every day. It is always the same shape, only very numerous. And it is like a woman stooping down and creeping about behind that pattern.
“(195) It’s shown here that the author believes and sees shape of the women and believes only she can see things. This is evident that she is being delusional and there are more evidence when she stated “I didn’t realize for a long time what the thing was that showed behind, that dim sub-pattern, but now I am quite sure it is a woman. By daylight she is subdued, quiet. I fancy it is the pattern that keeps her so still. It is so puzzling. It keeps me quiet by the hour.”(196) She is not imagining that there is a woman behind the wallpaper, she believes that it is woman behind the yellow wallpaper. By research, proven result, evidence all accounted for, the theme shows that the main character suffers from Schizophrenia.
She loses her grip of reality through her delusion that she is fine when she is sick, and it gets worse through her husband dictating orders to suppress herself and limiting her free will. Her mental illness has cause her to have paranoia and to fear those who are taking care of her, causing her to destroy her trust between her husband and family members. Finally her interaction with the wallpaper that despite it could possibly her imagination, it was her delusions. She believed that the figures in the wallpaper are real. That there is indeed a woman in the wallpaper trying to tell her something when in reality it was just a yellow wallpaper.
Which separates between the two word, imagination vs delusional or insanity vs reality.