“Humanism and Science in The Yellow Wallpaper: Healing Neurosis through the Art of Narratology”

Khaoula Ouni


A postmodern reading of humanities in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper highlights that it is a parody of nineteenth-century medical and patriarchal beliefs. Gilman deconstructs the medical enterprise by convincing John Mitchell, the famous neurologist of her era, to change his rest cure and to include art as a therapy in his treatment of neurasthenia. Through showing the adequacy of writing as a strong healing process to her psychic malaise and to her protagonist’s neurosis, she foregrounds that science is in need of what is called “narrative competence,” a competence developed by literary studies. In Gilman’s paradigm, devoid of humanistic courses, the scientific world of her neurologist leads to destruction and invalidism, by reducing the patients to embodied diseases and their experience of illness to the data of medical charts and records. Gilman castigates the vehement criticism launched against humanities and highlights that it is the foundation without which we will be lacking moral behaviors. The paper under scrutiny raises the significance of humanities in boosting empathy, by joining those who suffer with those who feel called to respond to this suffering and building a sane society lacking misconceptions and prejudices. It shows the deep relatedness, complementarity, and close interconnectedness of science and humanities. Following a deep scrutiny of the humanities’  enlightening role in the world of science in The Yellow Wallpaper, through interpreting, transvaluation, and reexamining long-held beliefs and mentalities, the paper concludes by demonstrating that humanities are in motion and will not perish but will survive strongly given that it is a vital and an integrating part of any course.


humanities, science, parody, motion.

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