Theme Of Self Expression In The Yellow Wallpaper

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Women have struggled for decades to carve out their place in society, but before they could do that they were tasked with standing their ground in their own marriages. Charlotte Perkins Gilman is a journalist, feminist and women’s rights activist who used her writing to shed light on women’s unequal status in the institution of marriage. In Gilman’s time it was a social norm that women were concerned only with the domestic trappings of the marriage, while the husband took the active role. In Gilman’s most famous short story “The Yellow Wallpaper”, Gilman uses a captivating plot, the symbolism of some frustrating wallpaper, and an overall theme of the importance of self expression to articulate the sometimes harmful aspects of a woman’s place…show more content…
Gilman shows through this theme that when one is forced to stay mentally inactive can only lead to mental self-destruction. The narrator is forced into a room and told to be passive, she is not allowed to have visitors, or write, or do much at all besides sleep. Her husband believes that a resting cure will rid her of her “slight hysterical tendency” (Gilman 478). Without the means to express herself or exercise her mind in anyway the narrator begins to delve deeper and deeper into her fantasies. The narrator begins to keep a secret journal, about which she states “And I know John would think it absurd. But I must say what I feel and think in some way - it is such a relief” (Gilman 483)! John tells his wife that she must control her imagination, lest it run away with her. In this way John has asserted full and complete dominance over his wife. The narrator, though an equal adult to her husband, is reduced to an infancy. In this state the narrator begins her slow descent into hysteria, for in her effort to understand herself she fully and completely loses herself.
Being able to have an equal partner and feel heard is not only an important thing to have in a marriage but is an important thing for one’s health. Charlotte Perkins Gilman uses her story “The Yellow Wallpaper” to discuss and emphasize the harmful effects this can have on women. With a captivating plot Gilman keeps the reader interested, and with powerful symbolism and themes teaches the reader the importance of a woman’s status in her
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