The Oppression of Women Exposed in The Yellow Wallpaper, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

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Prior to the early twentieth century men dictated women’s role in society. Charlotte Gilman uses her novella “The Yellow Wallpaper” (1892) as a symbolic reflection of oppression of women in a paternalistic society. Her novella challenges the idea of women being depicted as weak and fragile. The narrator’s name is unknown through out the story, yet at the beginning the reader is given her husbands’ name (John), and the narrator’s identity through the novella is as John’s wife, who is dominated by John in their relationship. This effect created by Gillman masterfully establishes the lack of a female determined identity. He diagnoses her, and with the exception of her being tired and wanting to write, John continues to establish that her health is unwell. John is the dominant personality in the marriage he does not see her as an equal in their relationship. This is a wonderful tone and mood used to reflect the cultural norm at the time of Gillman's writing. She is not viewed as an equal, she is treated like and often referred to as being a child. When she decides that she likes a downstairs bedroom next to the nursery, John insists on her having the bedroom upstairs with the yellow wallpaper. The narrator/wife hates the color of the room and describes the color as “repellent, almost revolting” (432) When she asks for her husband to change the color, he decides to not give in to her wants, and the reader is informed that John, who knows best, does this for her benefit. It is reflective of a parent not wanting to give into their child's whims for fear the child will become spoiled and will expect to get everything they ask for. Though her husband belittles her, she still praises everything he does and sees everything he is doing for... ... middle of paper ... ... of roles as the "man," has fainted. A man that faints at the sight of something that he is unable to understand, something terrifying. In the end, it is the narrator who seen as weak and fragile by her husband and society who crawls over her husband’s motionless body. The narrator does not stand up and walk over her husbands body, but she crawls over it, indicating that she no longer cares about him and that she is finally free. that much like any child they will first crawl, then walk in the final progression towards running. Gilman’s “Yellow Wallpaper” inspires that sometimes, to find your true self, you must break free restrictions and rules. The narrator looses herself in her decision to give into her husband and society and ceasing to do what she loved. With her decision to rebel and instead continue to write, she begins to find herself and her true freedom.

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