The Role Of Women In The Yellow Wallpaper

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In Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper,” we are walked through the journal of a women who has been diagnosed, by her husband, with what he believes is merely, “temporary nervous depression” (Gilman 216). Since the protagonist’s husband, John, believes the only way she will get better is through moderate exercise, and lots of rest, they rent a house where she can have tranquility and rest until she is better (Gilman 216). At first glance “The Yellow Wallpaper” seems like a simple story of a women trying to get better in a house that she doesn’t particularly like. However, through further analysis it can be seen that through the use of symbolism Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” is a critique on the role of women in nineteenth-century American society.
The Story begins with a description of the house. The house in itself is a symbol of isolation women faced in the nineteenth-century. The protagonist describes the house as isolated and miles away from the village, but also described as “the most beautiful place” (Gilman 217). During the nineteenth-century, women were in a sense isolated from society, just like the house. The role of the women was to stay home and tend to the
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The window being barred (Gilman 217) once again symbolizes how women in the nineteenth-century were “bound” to the home. Typically, in literature windows represent a sign of freedom and possibilities. In Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour,” Mrs. Mallard sees the open window as a new life, a promise of freedom (Chopin 179). That’s why it’s symbolic that the window is barred. It symbolizes women’s lack of freedom in the 1800s, women were husband’s property and had to do what their husbands said (Wilson 283). You can clearly see this aspect in the story as the protagonist doesn’t question any of her husband’s decisions and basically does everything he tells her to (Gilman
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