Descriptions of Oppressed Women in Charlotte Gillman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper

Descriptions of Oppressed Women in Charlotte Gillman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper

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In Charlotte Gillman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” the narrator describes several attitudes in which men thought about women and the overall oppression of women in the early 20th century. The perception of men and women encouraged society to place limitations on women and allow men to dominate. Women were seen as caretakers, homebodies and fragile, unable to care for one’s self. This is symbolic to the “Cult of Domesticity”, a term identifying a nineteenth-century ideology that women's nature suited them especially for tasks associated with the home. It identified four characteristics that were supposedly central to women's identity: piety, purity, domesticity, and submissiveness.” One the other hand, men would rule society through their work, politics, and government. They were able to live free and enjoy the public sphere where men enjoyed the competition created in the marketplace through which they gained their identity. In the public sphere, they made decisions that enhanced their own positions in society, while exploiting women’s biological makeup and employing blackmail to render women immobile.
The narrator introduces the character John as an authoritative figure, in that he is both her husband and her physician, which makes for a bad combination. His treatment of her so called a “ temporary nervous depression” is an underlining subdues to control her. John believes his methods of treatment are so sure work that he has on her on a set schedule. Gillman writes “So I take phosphates or phosphites ---whichever it is, and tonics, and journeys, and air, and exercise, and am absolutely forbidden to “work” until I am well again. His treat of her condition is that of a child as if say the she is not capable of taking care of one’s...


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...r," Gilman uses various symbols to show how men dominated society, and the continuing oppression women struggle to escape. The three main symbols that are reflected to support this: the yellow wallpaper, the color yellow and the nursery. The yellow wallpaper is without coincidence a societal norm that embodies the bondage of women place upon by men during the early 20th century. As the color yellow is often considered a child’s color, often related with sickness or weakness. Gillman mysterious illness is a clear indicator of her weakness and a man’s control over women. The nursery symbolizes how her husband treated her and how women were view on the same level as children. The narrator is stripped from her independence and the nursery represents her alienation. In every aspect "The Yellow Wall-Paper" is a statement of the oppression of the female sex by mankind.

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