Gilman does a great job showing how women suffered from inadequate medical treatment, but above that she depicts how nineteenth century women were trapped in their roles in society and yearned to escape from being controlled by males. The narrator in “The Yellow Wallpaper” knows she is sick, but the men in her life do not think she is seriously ill. Her husband, John, and her brother are both physicians of high standing, so she does not know what to do when they diagnose her as being perfectly healthy. Even though she does not agree with their remedies she has no say over them. She admits with discomfort, “So I take phosphates or phosphites-whichever it is, and tonics, and journeys, and airs, and exercise, and am absolutely forbidden to “work” until I am well again”(Gilman 956).
In The Yellow Wallpaper the author uses symbols to show restrictions on women, lack of public interaction, the struggle for equality, and the possibilities of the female sex during the 1800s. The yellow wallpaper itself is one of the largest symbols in the story. It can be interpreted to symbolize many things about the narrator. The wallpaper symbolizes the mental block mean attempted to place on women during the 1800s. The color yellow is often associated with sickness or weakness, and the narrator’s mysterious illness is an example of the male oppression on the narrator.
During the time when Gilman was growing up, women had defined domestic roles and their husbands were the dominating force. In turn, there were women who gained a voice and defied the oppressive male community; one of those voices being Gilman’s. Locked away in a mental and physical prison of her husband’s machination, the protagonist of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper is the embodiment of the struggles faced by women seeking freedom from the restraints placed upon them by men. The narrator remains nameless throughout the story in order to depict the wife as a figurative representation of women in society; women were treated lesser than that of males. In the story, this nameless woman is the wife of a “physician of high standing” (Gilman, 1), and has a “[brother who is also a physician] of high standing” (1).
Her husband, who in a real sense is expected to support fully his wife shouted at her when she raised her voice saying that the lottery was unfair, and this shows; he says, “Shut up, Tessie” (Jackson, 5). This shows how women are desperate, and their position in the society is not recognized. Women have no one on their side and more so someone who they can depend on not even their family members and their fellow women. Women in this society are not allowed to have any opinion on what their husbands had to say or rather have to say anything. The position of women in the society is to be loyal to their men and their
All together, these factors describe the imprisonment of women in the domestic sphere and gilded cage that they were expected to exist in and the control held over them by men. Early on we the readers come to find that John is the epitome of a dominating spouse. He treats his wife as an inferior and as though she is nothing more than an object in their marriage, “John laughs at me, of course, but one expects that in marriage” (Gilman 1). In John’s mind his wife’s ideas and thoughts aren’t important enough to be taken seriously, and thus never gives her a second thought when she begins to mention her thoughts on the house and her deteriorating mental state. It is also clear from this statement that John’s wife brushes off his laughter because it is what is expected in society.
The narrator and her husband’s interactions shows her as submissive in terms of gender equality. Although John perceives the narrator as a child with no volunteer ideas, it is shown in her journal that this theory is not valid because she was shaped to comply by the society and the norm. The narrator’s inferiority negatively impacts her mental and physical health to the point she had to rip off the wallpaper to break free. Nevertheless, when read critically, the story also unveil the women’s suffrage movement and its struggle. Since this story was published, women are slowly breaking away from men’s suppression and gaining more rights.
As a result, the narrator forcibly becomes completely passive and hides her fears in order to preserve the pretense of a happy marriage. Virtually, the narrator has no identity left because her role as mother and wife has been taken from her. The mental restraints placed on the narrator by John’s demeaning, authoritative ways, and the way he views her as only a homemaker not an imaginative thinker stifles her individuality and ultimately destroys her. In reality, John really does not know his wife, only superficially, and he treats her like a medical case instead of his loving
Ibsen points out flaws within society by writing this satirical and feminist play. A Doll House is largely about gender inequality, and written in order to open the eyes of the public to stop the imbalance in society. He uses Torvald, and, at one instance, Nora's father to represent the constraints, stresses, and belittlement men put on women. He parallels the trapped feeling most women had in society to Nora, who felt like a cornered dog and felt deceit was her only way out. Women should not have to "wear a mask," they should be free to express their true feelings and hopes without a man's undervaluing opinion.
Men have grown up in a society in which changing what they do not approve of, even women, is okay. Gilman’s main character is intimidated by a figure of her imagination. A figure of being the wife she is supposed to be, whom acts the way she is supposed to act because “[S]he is a perfect and enthusiastic housekeeper, and hopes for no better profession” (Gilman The Yellow Wallpaper 3). As John does not approve of the way his wife acts, he takes it upon himself to diagnose his wife, the main character. He tells her that she is not healthy and for her to be ready to be a mother and an acceptable wife, as well to get better, she needs to live in in their house coincidently three miles from the village.
The narrator in the yellow wallpaper creates a second self in order to satisfy her emptiness and desire to regain control of her life. The yellow wallpaper symbolizes something that affects her directly. The wallpaper develops its symbolism throughout the story at first its appearance is unpleasant it's ripped, soiled and a gross unclean yellow. The yellow wallpaper takes place back in a time when men held jobs, knowledge, and society over their heads and when women were looked upon as having no effects on society other than carrying children, maintaining a clean home and dinner on the table. The women in the yellow wallpaper is being controlled and oppressed by her husband John, this story is a woman's struggle to regain control of her life