Theme Of Gender Oppression In The Yellow Wallpaper

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Gender Confinement: Oppression and Depression Charlotte Perkins Gilman writes “The Yellow Wallpaper” to express how women’s rights are oppressed, how society deals with depression and how gender inequality is prevalent in the 19th century. This short story takes place during a period where women are not treated equal to men, and women have few rights. The author uses “The Yellow Wallpaper” to get this point across to the reader. Throughout time, women have experienced confinement through gender, depression and oppression. Through each of these ways of confinement, Charlotte Perkins Gilman attempts to show how gender, depression and oppression leads to the narrator’s confinement in “The Yellow Wallpaper.” In “The Yellow Wallpaper,” Charlotte…show more content…
In the article Controlling the Female Psyche: Assigned Gender Roles in “The Yellow Wallpaper”, English Professor Elizabeth Carey notes that John, the narrator’s husband, is a respected doctor and “rational thinker” and the narrator is the “dutiful wife who does not question her husband’s authority.” The narrator falls into her role easily by trying to do everything her husband tells her to do. Their marriage is a typical 19th century marriage where roles are established due to their gender. Despite the narrator’s objections, she agrees to treatment for depression because her husband wants her to receive treatment. The narrator is portrayed as being submissive to her husband. When he tells her to do something she obeys him without question. During this time period, men are seen as the dominant sex. They are the main providers of the family while women are seen as soft and weak. When the woman says “he takes all care of me, and so I feel basely ungrateful not to value it more”, (Gilman 793) she feels guilty for not listening to her husband. He is providing for the family and she feels that she needs to do whatever it takes to make him happy. She finds…show more content…
Men typically control the actions of women. Charlotte Perkins Gilman uses detailed descriptions to describe the room the narrator is confined in by saying “I lie here on this great immovable bed--it is nailed down, I believe--and follow that pattern about by the hour” (Gilman 796). This is an example of her confinement both physically and symbolically. The narrator feels physically confined in the house which leads to her feelings of isolation. The nursery is set up in a way that makes her feel more isolated from the real world “for the windows are barred for little children, and there are rings and things in the walls” (Gilman 793). The narrator slowly slips into insanity. With the confinement of her surroundings, the woman is gradually subjected to male oppression which is symbolic of the norm during the time period. By confining his wife to the nursery, John allows his dominance over his wife to prevail. The narrator then becomes obsessed with the yellow wallpaper as she feels out of control. She visualizes the pattern in the yellow wallpaper resembling a woman that is trapped just as the narrator feels trapped by the people in her life that are trying to control her. As Author Beverly A. Hume states in Managing Madness in Gilman 's 'The Yellow Wall-Paper, ' “Charlotte Perkins Gilman 's narrator evokes sympathy--not
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