The Oppression Of Women In Charlotte Perkins Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper

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Hidden away in her husband’s interpretation of care, the unnamed protagonist of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper is the embodiment of the struggles faced by women in 19th century America who are seeking freedom of thought from their male counterparts. Presented as, and widely seen and accepted as, a psychological horror or thriller story, it is apparent from a feminist point of view that it is a depiction of the state of women in the 19th century, and perhaps even of the author, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, who herself struggled living in a society run by males. This theme is made clear through the strength of John (the protagonist’s husband) as a character, the thoughts and writing of the unnamed narrator within her secret journal,…show more content…
All together, these factors describe the imprisonment of women in the domestic sphere and gilded cage that they were expected to exist in and the control held over them by men. Early on we the readers come to find that John is the epitome of a dominating spouse. He treats his wife as an inferior and as though she is nothing more than an object in their marriage, “John laughs at me, of course, but one expects that in marriage” (Gilman 1). In John’s mind his wife’s ideas and thoughts aren’t important enough to be taken seriously, and thus never gives her a second thought when she begins to mention her thoughts on the house and her deteriorating mental state. It is also clear from this statement that John’s wife brushes off his laughter because it is what is expected in society. Men are to take the thoughts and sayings of women with a grain of salt and dismiss them in order for their own ideologies to shine through and become what is predominant. Another example of men asserting their dominance over women is when the narrator’s physician husband has taken her health into his own hands and has decided that the best course of treatment is for her to stay in bed and restrain from doing any kind of mental or physical activity. The narrator believes that what she needs is anything but isolation, but the…show more content…
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). The pattern and the paper itself restrains her, although not physically like the bars on the windows or the gates on the doors, the wallpaper represents a psychological restraint, a mental prison. All of her thoughts are devoted entirely to the paper; she is obsessed with it, unable
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