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A Woman without a Voice

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A Woman without a Voice

Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” voices the struggle of an unnamed woman who loses her identity and mind. The narrator is oppressed by her husband who suppresses her voice, independence, and actions in an attempt to cure her worsening hysteria. The conflict between the two arises as the narrator attempts to break free of her submissive role and find her voice.

Constant oppression by her controlling husband leads to the story’s protagonist eventually succumbing to Identity loss. “If a physician of high standing, and one’s own husband, assures friends and relatives that there is really nothing the matter with one but temporary nervous depression-a slight hysterical tendency-what is one to do?” (519). Here Gilman illustrates early on that the woman has no voice of her own even in her own mental state. The last part of the question, “what is one to do”, seems to allude to the fact that has given in to the overassertive voice of her husband. Gilman shows us another example of our heroine’s loss of identity due to her “loving” husband’s smothering attention. “He is very careful and loving, and hardly lets me stir without special direction” (520). John’s overbearing demeanor is viewed as careful and loving, and it is quite clear that the narrator is losing her own voice and identity. Justifying his behavior out of love he continues to belittle his wife until she loses all identity. It is the battle to regain her identity and to let her voice be heard that gives us our conflict between John and his wife.

The Yellow Wallpaper is about the external conflict between an unnamed woman, trying to break free of her submissive role and find her voice in life, and her domineering husband who ...

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...eference to the characters apparent role in society and at home being beneath her husband. By acknowledging this she is once again voicing her opposition to the oppression of her officious husband. At the end of the story John faints in the path of his wife and she proceeds to “creep” over him (530). Symbolically the repressed wife has finally brought her husband down and has triumphed over him.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman writes a haunting tale of lost identity and the struggle to break free of oppression and find a voice to be heard. The central idea of identity loss causes the protagonist to slip into hysteria which is the only place that she seems to find a voice. Upon finding this voice she proceeds to break free from her husband and regain her identity. Without this conflict this is just the story of a mad woman who finally loses touch with all reality.
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