Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Yellow Wallpaper Annotation

This blog will be an annotation of The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. The word “creeping” or “creep” is used multiple times throughout the story as the narrator makes references to the woman behind the wallpaper. The narrator makes a significant shift from the word “crawl” to “creep” which makes the images more impactful on the reader as we are able to connect with the horror of the oppression of women during this time.
Oxford English Dictionary defines the word “creep” as the action of creeping; slow or stealthy motion and “creeping” as the action of moving on the ground, as a reptile, or a human being on hands and knees. This term comes to life in the story in the very last line, “Now why should that man have fainted? But he did, and right across my path by the wall, so that I had to creep over him every time!”
The word crawl in Oxford English Dictionary is defined as a verb and describes the word like this: to move slowly in a prone position, by dragging the body along close to the ground, as a child upon its hands and knees, any short-limbed quadruped or reptile, an insect, serpent, worm, slug. This word is used in the text on page 298, “Sometimes I think there are a great many women behind, and sometimes only one, and she crawls around fast, and her crawling shakes it all over.”
Although these two words are very similar the significance of using the work creep instead of crawl is very different. Crawl implies a movement that is very simple; when the term crawl is used I tend to immediately think of a newborn child just learning how to move on their own for the first time. It is a very innocent and childish term. Creep is a completely different word in my vocabulary, to creep on someone would imply a very dangerous and potentially harmful action. The use of the word creep towards the end of the story allows the readers to see how delirious the narrator had become following the uncontrollable and unfair treatment as a result of her post-partum depression.
The word can also represent the cultural side of the story by bringing out the absolute worst in a woman. The narrator got to the point where she could no longer handle being locked up in a room with hideous wallpaper and a chained bed. As a result, we discover that the woman behind the yellow wallpaper was in fact a representation of herself.
Lastly, after reading a review on Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper it is easy to conclude that she did reach the point of insanity. And the fact that Gilman chose to use the term “creep” in the very last sentence of the short story proves most people’s assumptions about the narrator’s mental state to be true.  In response to Gilman’s story, a blog is posted with this quote to sum up all of the nameless narrator’s emotions, “she is the physical manifestation of her imprisonment-- she has become the bedroom's effect. Creeping about stealthily, the narrator acts out her very interiority. She reveals, in turn, "all" that the bedroom hides, parading the bedroom's architectural charade as she circles its perimeter. Her insanity makes her a spectacle, but John is unable to see, unable to understand, and cannot, finally, accept the threat of exposure.” (Dr. Beth Snyder-Rheingold)

Works Cited
              Perkins-Gilman, Charlotte. The Yellow Wallpaper.1899.
Dr. Beth Snyder-Rheingold. November 2003. Online. Sep. 21 2011

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