Essay Preview: Madhouse
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February 22, 2006
Question # 1
Its A Madhouse! Or is it?
The mood sinks and your mind wanders off of the ordinary and fixes on the strange and unusual. The sticky confines of the ward exacerbate insane conditions. Plucked from reality and shoved into this mysterious hell hole, where delusion and hallucination are common and our fancys run wild. A madhouse is a place of great disorder and confusion where individuals with erratic and insane tendencies are detained or chose to reside.
In Charlotte Perkins Gilmans short story, “The Yellow Wallpaper”, the narrator spends all of her time in an isolated room with only a bed that is bolted down to the floor. Covering the walls in this room is a horrid yellow wallpaper, hence the title. Initially she is disgusted by the wallpaper, but the more time she concentrates on it she is very intrigued by it. Eventually she realizes that there is a woman trapped inside of the wallpapers bars, always creeping around. She views the room where she is told to rest and stay in as a prison and she relates the woman behind the wallpaper to herself. Little by little she removes the wallpaper thinking she will free the woman. Once all of the wallpaper is gone she thinks that she was the woman that was behind the wallpaper all along and she begins to creep alongside the wall.
To the narrator her space where she is detained is a prison. It is enforced by her husband John who is a doctor. John treats her like a child and says he knows what is best for her because he is a doctor. She loved to write and keep a diary but John would not let her because he was afraid that her mind may be too fanciful. The narrator was feeling so oppressed and held back by Johns demands that she envisioned a woman being oppressed by the hideous wallpaper. She became so obsessed, that it was all that she thought about. This was brought on by what she has been going through her whole life because she had no independence or say in anything, even matters of her own health.
The room with the yellow wallpaper definitely causes her insanity. Her sickness first started with a simple anxiety after giving birth. Once in the room her fancies started running wild and writing in her journal didnt help to keep her sane. She was ill without being in the room but being detained there makes her more neurotic and it turns her insane.
Susanna Kaysens novel, Girl Interrupted, tells the story of a girl admitted to a mental institution. There is a lot of pressure on her to succeed and be an academic achiever. This pressure becomes overwhelming and she takes an entire bottle of aspirin and chases it with vodka. This act was looked upon as an attempt at suicide by a family doctor/psychologist and she is sent away. She arrives and immediately realizes that these people arent like her at all. These people were actually insane and she could notice a distinct difference. She constantly writes in her journal about the patients. Analyzing and observing all their actions. Realizing peoples problems and writing them down helps her cope, and become sane. She forms a tight bond with all the patients and though she knows she is sane, she does not want to show it for fear she might be released. The reason she was so depressed from the beginning was that she had no real girl friends that she could have fun with. Ironically enough, the mental institution provided her with the girl friends she desired so to leave when she wasnt ready would be pointless.
There are two madhouses in this novel. One of them is the mental institution, for obvious reasons. It is a place of chaos and disarray all of the time and there are plenty of insane women wandering about. The other madhouse in this story applies to Susanna. Susannas madhouse is the real world and its expectations of upcoming women. The outside world for Susanna doesnt make sense; it is her place of confusion and delusion. When she steps out of the world and enters the hospital she faces another extreme that are the women