To He refutes her suggestion that they

To only recognize the fault in John’s actions that lead to the narrator’s madness is to not acknowledge that both John and the narrator are responsible for their fate. Although John belittles the narrator’s opinions and controls her by crushing her imagination and keeping her in the house, his intentions were to help her not to intentionally lead her into madness. The fault in John’s actions can be attributed to his and the narrator’s restrictive gender role and his inability to understand the narrator’s imagination and the severity of her illness. By reading the “The Yellow Wallpaper” with the perspective that John and his wife are both responsible for the oppression of the narrator and their tragic ending, readers might empathize with John and see the conclusion as mutually devastating for both of them. How does john belittle and control the narrator:John belittles and dominates the narrator throughout the story. When the narrator speaks of the house, John does not take her sense of peculiarity seriously. The narrator writes , “John laughs at me, but of course one expects that” (GIlman 274). John’s tendency to reject her opinions is also seen, when he rejects that she is sick (275). He refutes her suggestion that they move to the bedroom downstairs (275), and again, laughs at her nervousness about the  wallpaper (277). The most substantial ways that John controls the narrator is by restricting her imagination and forbidding her to write or leave the house. John also exerts his control over his wife in other small, subtle ways; he handles her prescriptions( Gilman 276), controls the company she is allowed to see (Gilman 277), and threatens to send her away against her wishes if she does not show signs of improvement (Gilman 278). John subconsciously controls and belittles his wife because of his gender role. The narrator characterizes John as a wise and practical physician. Gilam uses these qualities to show that he fills the gender role of a man. Because Victorian society believed that men were superior and more powerful than women, John internalizes this belief and controls his wife. Elizabeth Carey supports the notion that John and the narrator’s tragic fate is because their gender roles doom them. Carey points out that John doesn’t allow the narrator to think for herself and calls the narrator childish names like “blessed little girl” and “goose”. John makes the decisions because his gender role leads him to believe it is his job to do so in their marriage because he perceives himself as the practical one < Carey>. Because John’s actions can be attributed to his gender role, he is not entirely to blame; John controls his wife and disregards her opinions because men were expected to be in charge in Victorian society. The narrator also acts on her gender role which consequently reinforces John to dominate and belittle her. The women’s gender role is inferior, weak, illogical, and dependent. The narrator acts on her gender role by making herself seem weak when she hides her worsening symptoms after he threatens to put her under the care of doctor Mitchell. The narrator’s weakness is evident when she states, ” “.  The narrator also makes herself seem weak and dependent on John when she breaks down in front of him; she recognizes that her break down proves to John that she needs his help and gives him another reason to control her when she says , ”    “. John continues to believe the narrator is inferior to him because she does not go against his demands or show any strength . By acting how a women was thought should act in Victorian society, the narrator reinforces John’s controlling and belittling behavior. The narrator’s own doubt about her ability to control the situation because she is a women also reinforces John’s behavior. The narrator proves that she doesn’t think she has the ability to control the situation when she says “You see, he does not believe I am sick! And what am i to do”(Gilman 275)? The narrator also proves that she thinks John should control her because he is a man when she states” “. The narrator’s gender leads her to believe she is not in a position to challenge his authority. As a result, one should not expect John to give his wife the opportunity to make decisions for herself or consider her opinions when she does not have confidence in her own beliefs. Gilman wrote the Yellow Wallpaper “to reach Dr. S. Weir Mitchell, and convince him of the error of his ways (qtd in Overwriting the Rest Cure). Gilman attacks Mitchell in “The Yellow Wallpaper” by illustrating how John’s idea of the best treatment that is identical to Mitchell’s rest cure leads the narrator into madness. Mitchell’s treatment secluded the subject from family and forbade the patient to read or write (Overwriting the Rest Cure). Similarly, John does not allow the narrator to see “stimulating company” and does not allow her write in her journal(page numbers). Golden states that “In modern eyes it Mitchell’s Rest Cure can be read as an attempt to reorient women to the domestic sphere (and away from influences of their changing world) so that they could fulfill their most important role in society: to bear and rear children”(Overwriting the Rest Cure). From this perspective, John’s innocence comes into question since he treats the narrator’s nervousness similarly to how Mitchel treated his own patients. The perspective that John is intentionally trying to keep the narrator bound to the house fails to recognize other factors that influence John’s actions.


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