Women Being Controlled in The Yellow Wallpaper

The Yellow Wallpaper

Today, women have more freedoms than we did in the early nineteenth century. We have the right to vote, seek positions that are normally meant for men, and most of all, the right to use our minds. However, for women in the late 1800’s, they were brought up to be submissive housewives who were not allowed to express their own interests. In the story, “The Yellow Wallpaper,” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, a woman is isolated from the world and her family because she is suffering from a temporary illness. Under her husband’s care, she undergoes a treatment called “rest cure” prescribed by her doctor, Dr. Weir Mitchell. It includes bed rest, no emotional or physical stimulus, and limited access to people. However, due to isolation, the woman creates a delusional relationship with the yellow wallpaper in her bedroom. It’s patterns stand for everything that is going on in her current life. She is a lonely woman who yearns to escape the walls around her and be free.

As the story begins, the woman in the story is suffering from temporary nervous depression and has just been released from a sanitarium. Because she is ill, her husband John has been given instructions from her doctor on how to help her recuperate. “He is very careful and loving, and hardly let’s [his wife] stir without special direction” (Gilman, 451). This treatment confines her to her room upstairs. She is also required to have plenty of bed rest and is restricted from people and stimulation. However, one can say that such instructions will cause the illness to continue because of a lack of activity, isolation from the outside world, especially family members. It appears the woman in the story wants to ...

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...rld and the woman represents her. Ultimately, John’s wife concludes that her only escape from the room is to tear down the wallpaper. In doing so, she releases herself and takes control of her life.

Gilman has based this story on her own experience. She gives readers a glimpse on how women were restricted from mental stimulus and creative thinking because they were forced to conform to societies’ norms. The woman in the story is a prime example of how women were denied participation in their own marriage.

Works Cited

Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. “The Yellow Wallpaper.” 1892. pgs. 450-461.

Johnson, Greg. Gilman’s Gothic Allegory: Rage and Redemption in “The Yellow Wallpaper,”

in Studies in Short Fiction, Vol.26, No. 4, Fall, 1989, pg. 521-30.

Korb, Rena. An Overview of “The Yellow Wallpaper,” in Exploring Short Stories, Gale Research, 1998.
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