There are many opposing opinions on the identity of Jane in Charlotte Perkins Gilmans short story, The Yellow Wallpaper. The narrator of the story is never referred to by name throughout the entire work, however a questionable statement made by the narrator at the end of the story leads many to believe her name is Jane. Because the story does not specifically profess the narrator to be Jane, controversy has risen about Janes identity. There are many reasons to believe the narrator to be Jane and reject the assumption of a mere typo. A common misconception of the identity of Jane is that she is actually Jennie, the sister-in-law and housekeeper. In Johnsons study, he refers to Johns like-named sister and housekeeper (523) as Jane instead of Jennie.
However, Charlotte Perkins Gilman may disagree with Johnson because in her own story she refers to this woman as Jennie twelve times and not Jane once. The passage that comes into question on this issue is when the narrator retorts to her husband, Ive got out at last, in spite of you and Jane (172).
Also in the story the narrator talks about how nice Jennie is to her saying, Jennie is good and lets me alone when I want her to (164).
Jennie was not the one in the way of the narrator freeing herself. She has her own self to blame for that. The narrator is the victim of 19th centurys suppression and mistreatment of women as inferior beings.
Elaine Hedges describes greatly the state of this woman: But in her mad-sane way she has seen the situation of women for what it is. She has wanted to strangle the woman behind the papertie her with a rope. For that woman, the tragic product of her society, is of course the narrators self. By rejecting that woman she might free the other, imprisoned woman within herself. (19) By understanding this, it is more likely that Gilman meant for Jane to be the narrators name; for it is Jane she is having to fight to free herself. Jane has always attempted to be the ideal woman and wife for John but her rebellious self prevents her from reaching her ego-ideal (King 30).
The author of this novel is Margaret Atwood. She was born in Ottawa, Canada in 1939. She attended the University of Toronto, Radcliffe College, and Harvard University. This book is about a future dystopia. It shows a future in which the United States no longer exists. A knew society, known as Gilead, is created. Women are stripped of their rights. This novel shows what may lie ahead for women, if ...
King also comments, The narrator is both the woman behind the pattern who is securely tied with a rope, and she who does the tying. Her cry of you cant put me back! recognizes the finality of the ideological process (31).
Loralee MacPike believes that, The rescue of that woman becomes her one objective and the wallpaper becomes at once the symbol of her confinement and of her freedom (123).
This is saying that the narrator has two selves. One whom she frees from the wallpaper, and the other, Jane, who is stuck (confined) in the wallpaper. These two selves conflict with each other because Jane, the conformist, wants to live up to Johns ideal and her other self wants to break free from behind the wallpaper (society) and capture her own dreams.
Conrad Shumaker suggests the narrators identity be Jane: Recognizing herself as the woman who was behind the bars of the wallpaper, the narrator loses all social identity. At that moment she ceases to be the wife that she was and becomes nameless and isolated. When she views the picture of the imprisoned woman as realistic, she not only becomes separate from Jane, the loved and protected wife of John, she also loses her relationship to everyone else and her ability to act in a social context. To put it another way, Jane cannot read a story that describes her as a creeping woman. She turns away from her own narrative. (92) We can see in Gilmans words, in spite of you and Jane (172) that Jane and John are both the antagonists in this story.
It is easy to see this as so if Jane is the narrator. The names Jane and John are typical, ordinary names and this fact also points towards the identity of Jane. Margaret Delashmit, professor at Memphis State University, writes, Such common names usually suggest ordinary people; [the author is] making a statement about common relationships between the sexes in ordinary life (33).
ter> Comparing Two Extracts From Novels From Point Of View Of Language And Punctuation Jane Eyre is a book set further back in time and the language used in it is more old style, eg. And if I were in your place I should dislike her. In modern language we would say that morel like: If I was in your place I wouldnt like her. This language is used in the book kes which is set in a more present ...
Beverly Hume points out that Jane and John are no doubt the typical man and woman of the 19th century with John domineering over his helpless, sickly wife (477-478).
King points out Janes behavior as being increasingly submissive (30) which is typical of a woman in her day. She goes on with this argument saying: The conforming self thrives through the persecution of its repressed other. This relationship reaches its climax in the storys highly complex ending.
Once the narrator has stripped off most of the yellow wallpaper, all that remains is the conforming selfthe creation of social convention. When the woman behind the paper gets out, therefore, this is an image not of liberation but of the victory of the social ideal. The woman behind the paper helps the narrator to tear down the paper, assisting in the destruction of the other self. (31) Since the name Jane and John are the most common names for the stereotypical man and woman, it is safe to assume Jane is the narrator. Many critics compare the story of Jane Eyre with that of The yellow wallpaper because they have similar characters which happen to both be named Jane. Delashmit refers to the story Jane Eyre saying, The correspondences between Gilmans story and Jane Eyre increase the probability that the Jane she refers to is really herself and not Johns sister Jenny (a diminutive of Jane) (33).
Johns sister, Jennie, does not share any qualities of the Jane of Jane Eyre so it seems more likely that Gilman would name the similar character after Jane.
The parallels in the two stories are very numerous including both of the main characters seeing visions of part of their denied self and in both stories the motif of enclosure and escape through madness is present (Delashmit 32).
Susan Lanser compares the stories best: Like Gilmans narrator, Jane longs for both the freedom to roam and the pleasures of human society, and her sole relief in those moments is to walk around the attic and look out at the vista of road and trees and rolling hills so much like the view the narrator describes from her nursery in the writing that is her sole relief. It is from her attic perch that Jane feels so keenly that women, like men, need to exercise for their faculties and suffer from too rigid a restraint, as in her attic Gilmans narrator lies on the great immovable bed and longs for company and exercise. (153) So surely Charlotte Perkins Gilman meant her narrator to be Jane and it wasnt a mere slip of the pen as Lanser seemingly eludes. The evidence attained from studying The Yellow Wallpaper leads many scholarly critics to see Jane as the narrators conforming self. Perhaps if one character of this short story should be unnamed it should be the woman behind the yellow wallpaper who tries to break free from Jane and Johns (societys) suppression. Greg Johnson states, The narrator, her identity in turbulent flux, fits nowhere inside this [society] and is appropriately nameless, (526) speaking of Janes disturbed self. He also agrees upon the fact that Jane is on Johns side watching her every move, Jane being the conforming part of the narrator, not Jennie. Therefore, Jane is seen as the narrators conformant self who fights with her other half as to suppress who she really is.
... restlessness, and anxiety- all of which are displayed by Jane in “The Yellow Wallpaper.” Gilman was advised by Dr. Mitchell to stop writing and ... used as a mockery of John’s ignorance throughout the entire story. The narrator writes, “There are things in that paper that nobody ...
When Gilman writes, Ive got out at last, in spite of you and Jane, (172) the identity of Jane is now made clear. It seems silly to think Gilman meant Jane to be a nickname for Jennie or for it to be a typo. A typo would be easy to fix. The meaning of this sentence is pertinent to understanding the story of The Yellow Wallpaper and for the reader to understand that the narrator has two separate selves. If these two selves are not distinguished by one self being named Jane, we miss the entire message of the story that Gilman is trying to convey. Gilman is trying to challenge each woman of her day to break free from societys constraints and to fight the Jane she has become to find the nameless woman daring to emerge.
Bibliography: Works Cited Delashmit, Margaret and Charles Long. Gilmans The Yellow Wallpaper. Explicator. Washington, D.C. (Expl).
1991 Fall, 50:1, 32-33. Gilman, Charlotte Perkins.
Doctor Knows Best Often human illness calls for medical attention to acquire both soundness of body and mind. Opinions from medical professionals are sought after by those individuals seeking reassurance and peace of mind in knowing they will receive the best possible treatment. In her short story The Yellow Wallpaper, Charlotte Perkins Gilman presents a situation where a respected professional, ...
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