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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Blog Option 3: “The Yellow Wallpaper”

Peyton Wolonsky
Professor Jackson
Gothic Literature
17 October 2013

Blog Option 3: “The Yellow Wallpaper”

I remembered reading an article on the effects of isolation on mental and emotional health that was triggered when I read “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gillman. The narrator in the short story is suffering from what is portrayed as hallucinations when she starts to see figures of woman in the wallpaper of her and her husband’s summer home. “It is dull enough to confuse the eye in following, pronounced enough to constantly irritate and provoke study, and when you follow the lame uncertain curves for a little distance they suddenly commit suicide—plunge off at outrageous angles, destroy themselves in unheard of contradictions.” (Gilman 89) This reminded me of a piece written on Serendip Studio by Carly Frintner titled “Lonely Madness: The Effects of Solitary Confinement and Social Isolation on Mental and Emotional Health.”
In her piece Carly Frintner writes of her own accounts of isolation. She tells her audience how she enjoys her moments of solitude until they become overbearing. She explains, “more specifically, a kind of panic sets in when I realize I'm alone with my thoughts with no one to affirm or deny the validity of what I'm thinking” (Frintner). She discusses how the lack of social interaction and mental stimulus can lead to emotional and psychological destruction in one’s life. The narrator in Gilman’s short story goes through this exact transformation, slightly against her will. She desires to be around others in the beginning and to visit friends, but her husband will not allow her until she becomes so entranced in the wallpaper and the woman behind it that she wants to be left alone to solve her mental frustration. Frintner goes on throughout her article to provide evidence of the negative effects that accompany social isolation. These effects are accurately displayed in the madness that overtakes the narrator. I’m sure that many people can relate to how it feels being alone, even just to a small extent when you are left home by yourself, and how it effects your train of thoughts. “It could mean that without certain (or enough) stimuli, the level of random activity in the nervous system increases—such as brain activity that causes hallucinations” (Frintner). If people who are not sick can experience these results then it is easy to understand the extreme state that the narrator in “The Yellow Wallpaper” must be experiencing.

Frintner, Carly. "Lonely Madness: The Effects of Solitary Confinement and Social
Isolation on Mental and Emotional Health." Serendip Studio. Lonely Madness: The
Effects of Solitary Confinement and Social Isolation on Mental and Emotional Health, 17 Jan. 2008. Web. 17 Oct. 2013.

Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. "The Yellow Wallpaper." American Gothic Tales. Ed. Joyce
C. Oates. New York: Penguin Group, 1996. 52-64. Print.

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