A Feminist Criticism In The Yellow Wallpaper

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The Yellow Wallpaper is a feminist text that points out unfair societal norms and male-centric thinking. Gilman was both a feminist and socialist who saw economic oppression spread throughout society. She believed marriage was meaningless and that it demanded women to fall submissive to their husbands in exchange for martial support. In the 19th century, women were considered legal property to their husbands once they married, exemplifying society’s suppression of women. John, who is the narrator’s husband, controls much of what his wife can and cannot do. John is able to control his wife because “[He] [is] a physician of high standing” (Gilman 165), allowing him to be highly represented in society. Gilman treasured her independence and the…show more content…
The wallpaper with “lame uncertain curves,” and “outrageous angles” (167) symbolizes the way women were perceived by society. Through the narrator it is clear that women were not only seen as subservient to men but also weak and domestic. John treats her in a way that characterizes her as a child by calling her “little girl” and “blessed little goose” (173). Not only in this aspect our women seen as “babies” but she is also put in a room that use to be nursery and playroom, “It was nursery at first, then playroom...I should judge, for the windows are barred for little children" (167). Something so basic as to choosing which room to sleep in, she is still powerless much in ways a child is powerless. Again, John is controlling the narrator by forcing her to sleep upstairs so he can monitor her “condition”, rather than relocating to the first floor where the narrator believes it is more “antique”. Like an infant, at one point John carries her upstairs and lays her on the bed to “rest”. This asserts not only his physical strength but also his power over her. Not only does this resemble his authority over her, but it also shows his superiority over her by infantilizes his wife when reading to her as if she is incapable of reading like a child. Susan Lanser in Feminist Criticism, “The Yellow Wallpaper”states that phrases such as "John says", "Heads a litany of benevolent prescriptions that…show more content…
Throughout the novel, she exemplifies women’s subordination to men and her desire for equality. The Yellow Wallpaper is “Contemporary feminism” (Lanser 415) that explores Gilman’s emotion and is a testament to her own experience of male supremacy. Through the narrator, readers see a personal attachment that showed intensity and emotional truth of her personal life. Writing The Yellow Wallpaper exposed the effects of work deprivation on intelligent women, it served as a major act of empowerment. What the text really depicted was not Weir Mitchell’s treatment, but the combination of many factors that contributed to her illness and her perception of its causes. It brought out the destructive power of nineteenth-century marriage and the ideal of
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