The feminist literary lens addresses the imprisonment of women, and the imbalance of power between the two genders. During the whole of the story, John portrays his male dominant characteristics by treating th... ... middle of paper ... ...power struggle. The Yellow Wallpaper has profound symbolism that transcends from Gilman’s personal life. The dominance of John’s over the wife’s is a clear reflection of the dominant differences between men and women in the past. Through the interaction between the characters, and the wife’s inner thoughts, one can say that the women during the time period had very little or no freedom of speech.
The roles in which gender is the main factor has been fought over but the fact of the matter is that it is still being fought over today. Not only is a gender role an old disagreement, but it is also the hidden symbolic meaning behind Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper. In her short story published in 1899, author Charlotte Perkins Gilman effectively use symbolic patterns to comment on how societal oppressions create insanity. Although John thinks he is being supportive by enforcing the “rest cure” for his wife, his lack of listening reflects the roles determined by gender. Men have grown up in a society in which changing what they do not approve of, even women, is okay.
“The Achievement of Desire.” Ways of Reading: An Anthology for Writers. Ed. David Bartholomae and Anthony Petrosky. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2011.
158-9. Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. "The Yellow Wallpaper." Literature and Its Writers: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. Eds.
John advises his wife to not think about her own medical condition at all because it would be detrimental for her mind. By doing this, he prevents her from thinking for herself. John does not allow his wife to seek any form of companionship either through socializing or through a journal, saying, “[she] is absolutely forbidden to ‘work’ until [she] is well again” (Gilman 11). Mrs. Mallard’s husband from “The Story of an Hour” is also very controlling, although we see this is in a more subtle way. The reader discovers this revelation at the same time as Mrs. Mallard.
Her environment feels to her very much like a prison with her husband merely pushing aside her feelings of distaste, believing that giving in and listening to her desires will only worsen her condition. When the narrator wishes for the walls to be fixed, her husband refuses, stating “nothing was worse for a nervous patient than to give way to such fancies. After the wall-paper was changed it would be the heavy bedstead, and then the barred windows, and then that gate at the head of the stairs, and so on” (Gilman 3). The narrator feels entrapped by the house’s bars and gates, but her husband in no way gives her feelings consideration and he refuses to change her environment, therefore keeping her imprisoned within the house, the gilded cage, and her mind. Although the house illustrates feminist views a great deal, the greatest setting to emphasize those views is the wallpaper in the bedroom; “At night in any kind of light, in twilight, candlelight, lamplight, and worst of all by moonlight, it becomes bars!” (Gilman 7).
This agenda deals with a woman’s struggle against the “male-centric thinking and societal norms” (Ames). In the story, there is a domineering husband who drives his wife mad in an attempt to help her, but the story illustrates how established protocols of behavior could have devastating effects on the women of Gilman’s time. John, the husband, is eerily inappropriate and restrictive but this was considered normal, while Jane is the mistreated woman. The primary focusing point of the short story is ‘the yellow wallpaper’ which conveys many detailed and vivid metaphors for the astute mistreatment and oppression of women. Steadily and methodically, Gilman is able to expose more insight into the meaning of the wallpaper.
While comparing both stories it is clear that madness has been caused due to the male roles throughout the stories. Whether it’s the lover, husband, or men in the community all have shown male dominance against women. At the end of "The Yellow Wallpaper," the narrator 's husband has pushed her towards "insanity." Gilman does not even give the narrator a name. At the end of "A Rose for Emily,” Emily simply dies and her society lives on.
“The Yellow Wallpaper” is an indication of the mental restrictions that were placed upon women by men during the 1800s. Perkins shows that the possibilities of women are as good as those of man, and that during the 19th century those possibilities were severely restricted. The writer sees other doing acts she could do herself, just as women saw acts of man that they could do with the same level of capability. Entirely, “The Yellow Wallpaper” gave women a view of the oppression on them by mankind and gave them a whole new voice to escape that disaster.