Thursday, March 8, 2007

Great Slanting Waves Of Optic Horror

Journal No. 13
English 48B
Dr. Scott Lankford
Author I Chose: Charlotte Perkins Gilman

From "The Yellow Wall-Paper"

I. "...the sprawling outlines run off in great slanting waves of optic horror, like a lot of wallowing sea-weeds in full chase."

II. The main character of Gilman's story is observing the ever-changing pattern in the yellow wallpaper that covers her room of mental imprisonment.

III. The woman in the room has been left alone often, without a task to have to herself. She has been robbed of the ability to write (at least as far as her husband knows) and the ability to converse with her family and friends. She has been brainwashed into believing that she would harm their child if she dared to try and take care of him. She has been convinced that she is nothing but a fragile, desperate woman. She has been convinced of this so much that it is indeed becoming true. She has begun to believe that she is seeing things in the wallpaper's patterns. What would you do if all of your time was spent either looking outside through bars or staring at a horrid, sickly-yellow pattern that was torn and stained?

Gilman's use of imagery is wonderful here. As the character descends more and more into mental instability, so does the imagery that Gilman uses. As the reader continues, they are left feeling as dizzy and confused as the main character herself. The idea of seaweeds being able to chase something gives even more human-like quality, and therefore "reality," to the images in the paper. "Slanting waves" would imply that the pattern is moving severely and extemely in one, or possibly more than one, direction. And of course, my favorite would be the "optic horror." This is implying that the mess of movement and humanness of the paper is now taking on a frighteningly haunting form. The paper is no longer paper- it is a being that is there simply to haunt and possibly to posses the main character's already fragile spirit and to take over her soul.


Scott said...

20 points. The (visual) image you chose is perfect too!