In the story "The Yellow Wallpaper," it is clear that women's thoughts and feelings were not held in high regard at the turn of the century. It is known that before the turn of the century, men thought women to be inferior to them and there are multiple examples of this in this text. Also during this time, not much was known about mental illness nor how to properly treat it. Most people were afraid that mental illness was contagious so they would throw people in insane asylums. Mental illness was looked down upon so fiercely that many wealthy families disposed of mentally ill family members in these asylums. Charlotte Perkins Gilman defeats the patriarchal culture, by her story's lead character questioning her husband's expertise as a doctor, since her symptoms are getting worse. The story is loosely based on an event that actually happened in the author's life and the characters represent herself and her family.
It is obvious when reading this story that women were thought to be inferior at the turn of the century. There are several examples throughout the story that show John, a representation of her ex-husband Charles, talking down to her and discarding her thoughts and feelings before she ever finished stating them. In fact, every time she tries to let her husband know how she feels and what she wants to do, he immediately cuts her off or comes up with an excuse as to why she cannot do something or should not feel a particular way. Her husband is trying to control her thoughts, her feelings, and what she can and cannot do, which contributes greatly to her being depressed. Men during this time liked their women to stay quiet. There is a line in the story where Gilman states her lead character is eating more and staying quiet a...
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...learn through the story that had he listened to her ideas on how to treat herself then she might not have gone crazy. The story of "The Yellow Wallpaper" is truly a fascinating feminist piece for its time and definitely provides a great insider look, into the thought process of a woman dealing with a mental illness.
Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. "The Yellow Wallpaper." 1892. Literature:
The Human Experience. Shorter 9th ed. Eds. Richard Abcarian and Marvin
Klotz. Boston: Bedford, 2007. (pg. 68-81).
Mayo Clinic. (2012, September 11). Postpartum depression symptoms. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/postpartum- depression/basics/symptoms/con-20029130
"patriarchy." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. 2003. Houghton Mifflin Company 26 Jan. 2014 http://www.thefreedictionary.com/patriarchy