Analytical Critical Response 1 – Yellow Wallpaper
Home, in contemporary literature, often plays an integral role often symbolizing security, unison, and support; although, things were not always this way. “The Yellow Wallpaper”, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, depicts the all-too-real struggle many women faced in the nineteenth century and earlier. This short passage portrays the narrative of female intellectual oppression – an examination of nineteenth century social mores. The passage voices the common practice of diagnosing women with “rest cure” who displayed symptoms of depression and anxiety with a supposed treatment of lying in bed for several weeks, allowing no more than twenty minutes of intellectual application per day. Women, at this time, were considered to be the second sex – weaker and more fragile, unable to grapple the same daily activities as men – and such the “rest cure” prevents women from using any form of thinking, trusting the notion that naturally the female mind is empty. Not even were these women considered “domesticated”, no, that term here would be endearing, these women were mental patients. As a result, a woman was enclosed to empty room in her husband’s (John’s) home, lacking any psychical or mental stimulation, only to make her more anxious and eventually mad, reinforcing the suspicions of doctors and husbands everywhere that their wives needed even more “rest”. This illustration of “home” is unlike the one stated above, it is more so the product of the oppressive forces of a patriarchal driven society.
The physical home that the unnamed narrator lives in is no more than a prison. She is confined to a room with four walls plastered with peeling wallpaper that is a...
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...ttempting to regain sanity. In the house, there are rooms that need repaired, but are neglected by John. The narrator and the unfinished, broken aspects of the house share their neglect from John; both can be easily “fixed”, but instead, are overlooked.
“The Yellow Wallpaper” reminds us that, even today, a woman who allows herself to become dominated to the point where her talents are suppressed can make herself a prisoner of her own creativity. The narrator had post partum depression, but was unable to write herself out of her disorder, whereas Gilman was able to. The protagonist so strongly represents the struggle of being so close to freedom from the male dominated society, but is unable to free her spirit from the boundaries of her own world. Here, this was a creation of society that keeps women at the lowest possible fragment of the social hierarchical scale.
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