Feminism in The Yellow Paper by Charlotte Perkings Gilman

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While “White Heron” exemplifies how a young girl can reject the patriarchy, “The Yellow Wallpaper” examines how women have been historically, socially and medically oppressed by men, Gilman the narrator becomes a byproduct of the patriarchy which causes the narrators complete submission to a man. Barbara A. Suess, a professor of women’s studies at William Paterson University, analyzes how “The Yellow Wallpaper” shows the gradual psychosis of a woman overruled by the powers of the patriarchy. “She[the narrator] represents women who are failing to see or becoming unduly preoccupied with the grotesque nature of their cultural and/or psychological circumstances, and move towards an increasing distorted understanding of themselves. Thus, she accepts the terms that are used to define her”(86-87). While Suess argues that women become obsessed with the way in which they are repressed culturally or psychologically, “The Yellow Wallpaper” shows how women are systematically stripped of their self identity. In the first lines of the novel, the narrator is depicted as being weak and lacks confidence within herself; thus, she has given up on trying to govern her own actions and thoughts and places her own responsibility on her husband. The narrator describes how she has willingly given up making her own life choices, and prefers that her husband control her life, she states “He is very careful and loving, and hardly lets me stir without special direction. I have a schedule prescription for each hour in the day; he takes all care from me, and I feel so basely ungrateful not to value it more”(Gilman 487). Patriarchal views have manifested themselves within the narrator. She no longer sees herself as an independent; consequently, she has become co...

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...ble to self-identity with her manic hallucinations, she explains “I don’t want to look out of the windows even- there are so many of those creeping women, and they creep so fast. I wonder if they all come out of that wallpaper as I did?”(496).

Works Cited

"Women and the Church: God Created Woman in Her Own Image." Off Our Backs. May 06 1971: 1. ProQuest. Web. 24 Apr. 2014 .
Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. "The Yellow Wallpaper." The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Nina Baym. 8th ed. Vol. 2. New York: W.W. Norton, 2013. 485-97. Print.
Jewett, Sarah Orne. "White Heron." The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Nina Baym. 8th ed. Vol. 2. New York: W.W. Norton, 2013. 413-19. Print.
Suess, Barbara A. "The Writing's On The Wall" Symbolic Orders In 'The Yellow Wallpaper'." Women's Studies 32.1 (2003): 79. Academic Search Premier. Web. 24 Apr. 2014.
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