Summary of “Escaping the Jaundiced Eye: Foucauldian Panopticism in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s ‘the Yellow Wallpaper’”
English and Literature
Submitted By katichc
Summary of “Escaping the Jaundiced Eye: Foucauldian Panopticism in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’”
Bak beautifully discusses how isolation (aka “rest”) was used as treatment in the nineteenth-century for depression in women. Doctors used rest or isolation as treatment for “nervous prostration”(Bak, 1994). The narrator in “The Yellow Wallpaper” (1892) is put on a treatment plan by her husband/doctor that is of isolation. Bak asks a question about the narrator’s sanity; was she already mad in the start of “The Yellow Wallpaper” and just reliving the decline that has already taken place (Bak, 1994) or was the story about the narrator’s slow journey into madness? I believe that both questions are the answer to Bak’s question. Bak goes on to explain just this. Bak depicts Gilman’s description of the narrators isolated living conditions. Gilman’s description of the room leaves Bak to believe that the room would drive anyone into insanity. I know that I would surly go mad in such a place. Bak cites the feminist critic Elanie Hedges who says that the “paper symbolizes her situation as seen by the men who control her and hence her situation as seen by herself” (Bak, 1994). Bak explains how “The Yellow Wallpaper” became a feminist writing explaining that men were guilty of the storyteller's psychical imprisonment and thus the mental failure.
Bak (1994) compares the room and house the narrator lives in during her depression to a dehumanizing dystopia like cage forced upon the narrator by her husband/doctor. Bak goes on to explain that the narrator is never set free of her imprisonment. The narrator is compared to a prisoner whom is always watched and never is aware when they are actually being watched and when they are not. I view this as truly an amazingly accurate interpretation. This intern negatively...