Free Yellow Wallpaper Essays: Women's Subordination

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Women's Subordination in The Yellow Wallpaper "The Yellow Wallpaper," written in 1892 by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, is a chilling study of insanity. It is a bitter story of a young woman driven to insanity by a "loving" husband-doctor, who imposes Mitchell's "rest cure."1 This short story vividly reflects a woman in torment. This story starts out with a hysterical woman who is overprotected by her "loving" husband John. She is taken to a summer home to recover from a nervous condition. She is told to rest and sleep; she is not even allowed to write. "I must put this away,--he hates to have me write a word." This shows how controlling John is over her as both husband and doctor. She is "absolutely forbidden to "work" until" she's "well again." Here, John seems to be more of a father than a husband. Like the husband in Ibsen's A Doll House, John is being the dominant person in the marriage: a sign of typical middle-class. Although the narrator feels desperate, John tells her that there is "no reason" for how she feels; she must dismiss those "silly fantasies." In other words, John treats her like a child and gives her reason to doubt herself. "Of course it is only nervousness," she decides. She tries to rest, to do as she is told, like a child, but suffers because John does not believe that she is ill. This makes her feel inadequate and unsure of her own sanity. He "does not know how much I really suffer. He knows there is no reason to suffer, and that satisfies him." She feels that she should be "a good girl" and appreciate the protective love John offers to her. "He takes all care from me, and I feel so basely ungrateful not to value it more. . . . He took me in his arms and called me a blessed little goose. . . . He said I was his darling and his comfort and all he had, and that I must take care of myself for his sake, and keep well." In telling her to keep well, John just expresses more doubt about her having any real illness. She tries to discuss her feelings, but this brings only a "stern reproachful look" and she goes back to bed. "Really dear you are better," John says over and over.

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