Women and Horror

This is actually my second time reading the Yellow Wallpaper; although the first time I read it was in elementary school and so I barely remembered anything about it. Especially how creepy it was! I mean, as a child I understood it was spooky, but it was only reading it as an adult (and especially reading it in conjunction with Simone de Beauvoire) that I really got how unsettling the entire thing was. I feel as if there are two separate levels to the horror in the story: the obvious and the implied. The obvious horror is very overt, it takes up most of the narrative and is apparent to most people who read the story: the narrator is slowly going insane and seeing women trapped in the wallpaper. The implied horror is more subdued, and is something I only understood on reading this story as an adult: the fact that the narrator’s husband and sister-in-law are insistent keeping her locked up and essentially imprisoned, even when the narrator tries to convince them that she should be allowed outside stimulus.

The obvious horror is, to me, something that you find in a lot of horror movies–something scary that seems somewhat improbable. For example, people may be scared after watching Silence of the Lambs, but they also realize that it is unlikely that they will be killed by a psychotic serial killer. The same is true for the obvious horror in the Yellow Wallpaper– it is unnerving to think of someone going crazy and seeing people trapped in their wallpaper, but it also doesn’t sound very realistic.  The implied horror, on the other hand, is so horrific because of how plausible it is. At the time, it was not uncommon for women to be trapped inside their own homes for ‘medical’ reasons. The fact that even the people the narrator trusts are complicit in her imprisonment only adds to the horror–not only is she trapped, but she has no-one to confide in and no hope of escape.

While the obvious horror is more eye-catching, and definitely scarier in the moment of reading the story, I think the implied horror is the more subtle, creeping horror that will keep me awake in the middle of the night.

p.s. -WOW ok this is going up late because i was an idiot who wrote this and then forgot to post it before i went off to my lecture, sorry guys!