“The Yellow Wallpaper,” a story by American writer Charlotte Gilman and one of the earliest feminist works, is outstanding in both content and form. The author seeks to attract public attention to the consequences of social isolation and sceptical attitude. Although women faced those frequently in the 19th century, Gilman was among the first to describe the problem openly. Regarding form, first-person storytelling enables deeper empathy with the character, hence strengthens the impression. Overall, due to presenting the plot from the narrator’s perspective, “The Yellow Wallpaper” is especially thrilling, which allows for a closer focus on the topic.
Description of Psychosis
First-person pronouns make the story similar to memories, on which it actually is based, as Gilman composed it after combating postpartum depression. This adds to its realism and helps the readers recognize the seriousness of the problem. “You see he does not believe I am sick!” the protagonist thinks, which phrase expresses her despair substantially brighter than an emotionless third-person remark would do (Gilman, p. 647). In fact, the author and the main character constitute a whole; the latter embodies the position of the former and serves to communicate it to the audience. Gilman probably shares her own memories on her mental condition and her disappointment with the negligence of female health.
History of Fighting the Disease
Similar to any drama, the story tells about struggle, whose severity is the most apparent from the protagonists’ emotional response. A first-person presentation therefore is substantially more persuasive than a third-person. “You see I have something more to expect […] and I am more quiet than I was”, the protagonist notes in her intimate diary, which the writing imitates (Gilman, p. 653). A description from the side would sound less trustworthy, as nobody else can perceive an individual’s emotions fully. Consequently, the work appeals to the readers’ empathy more effectively and awakens more feelings in them.
As the entire story is a presentation of the protagonist’s perception of reality, ending it from a different perspective would look unnatural. “I’ve got out at last” – solely the main character can decide, whether this has happened or not because nobody else knows where the metaphorical border lies, which she had to cross (Gilman, p. 656). First-person narration serves to highlight that the other do not understand the inner thought of the protagonist, due to which she is bound to explore it on her own. This constrained isolation worsens her state, but her husband does not believe her; at the end, he faints, and she has to step over him while walking (Gilman, p. 656). This apparently symbolizes overcoming the prejudice, which is the main purpose of the author.
“The Yellow Wallpaper” is among the earliest literary works that attracted public attention to the depreciation of women’s mental health problems. Telling in first person enables a maximal dive into the protagonist’s emotions and regarding reality from the lens of her psychosis, which, in turn, increases persuasiveness. By empathizing with the main character, the audience are more probable to realize the seriousness of the issue.
Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. The Yellow Wallpaper. 1892. Web.