No Voice in The Yellow Paper by Charlotte Perkins-Gilman

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Elaine Hedges reads the story as “One of the rare pieces of literature we have by a nineteenth-century woman which directly confronts the sexual politics of the male-female, husband-wife relationship” (114). In Charlotte Perkins-Gilman’s short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” she portrays a woman in the nineteenth century struggling to cure her “temporary nervous depression” due to the immobility her husband puts on her. During this time period, many males thought of women as weak and helpless, which exemplifies why the husband dominates his wife’s thoughts and actions, and as a result, empowers himself. Because this story exists as the narrator’s diary, the reader can assimilate the secrecy the narrator had behind her husband and the severity of her loss of control. Using the feminist perspective, Gilman illustrates the embodiment of the struggles faced by women in seeking freedom of thought and action.
To begin, it is immediately apparent in the story that the narrator allows herself to be inferior to her husband John. Being a physician, John believes in order to cure his wife, he needs to isolate her. The wife speaks of his actions towards her, which shows how he presents himself superior to her. Gilman writes, “John laughs at me, of course, but one expects that in marriage” (729). Moreover, today one would never laugh at a concerning trouble from his or her spouse, but when Gilman indites John “laughs” it signals the overpowering of the male spouse amid this categorical duration. Withal, by referring to the expectancy of cachinnation from her husband prior to marriage displays the lack of control the female had on her decisions to wed in the first place. Furthermore, the narrator feels her words do not matter. She write...

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... help her vision the side of her that is pleading for control over her own life. According to Hall, as the narrator’s “madness intensifies, she identifies herself with the trapped woman until subject-object relations become confused: the two women become one”. Gilman incorporated the feminist perspective in her writing by using Jane’s struggles to speak for many women who also did not have a voice.

Works Cited

Abcarian, Richard and Marvin Klotz. Literature The Human Experience. Boston: Bedford/ St.
Martins, 2007. Print.
Hall, Thelma R. "Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper": A Surrealistic Portrayal
Of A Woman's Arrested Development." ERIC. 1994. Web. 16 Apr. 2014.
Haney-Peritz, Janice. "Monumental Feminism And Literature's Ancestral House: Another Look
At 'The Yellow Wallpaper'." Women's Studies 12.2. .EBSCO MegaFILE. 1986.
Web. 16 Apr. 2014.
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