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The Downward Spiral into Insanity

  • Date Submitted: 11/28/2010 02:22 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 50.5 
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Comp II
The Downward Spiral into Insanity
Only recently have doctors been able to even begin to comprehend the effects mental illness have on people’s ability to understand, rationalize, and react to the world around them. As late as fifty years ago most mental patients were not being treated effectively, often times simply being put into confinement. Often, the treatments mental patients sought would only serve to exacerbate their conditions.   The author of The Yellow Wallpaper, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, had a nervous breakdown early on in her life, and through this experience she realized first-hand that the medical practices of her time regarding the mentally ill were severely lacking.   Gilman set out to write a partly-fictional, partly-autobiographical story about her thoughts on the then-current medical practices on the mentally ill and to attempt to relate her experiences through this story. In the story, an unnamed narrator and her husband move into a large summer home in order for the narrator to recuperate from an unnamed mental affliction (possibly depression) and because their home is in need of fixing. As the story progresses, the narrator, who is keeping a journal and whose perspective the story is told by via journal entries, becomes obsessed with the ugly, yellow wallpaper that makes up her room’s décor. Her obsession worsens each day and eventually she begins to see the figure of a woman in the wallpaper that creeps around her home during the day. She becomes fascinated by this creeping figure and her already fragile mind is worn away by her obsession with the wallpaper, the woman in the wallpaper, and above all her confinement to the room wherein these things lie. The author makes use of the narrator’s writings and point-of-view to set the tone through which we are able to map her descent into insanity and gives a chilling, realistic view of how fragile a person’s mind is as well as to show how unsuitable certain treatments of her time were in...


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