Gender Inequality Within The Yellow Wallpaper

Gender Inequality Within The Yellow Wallpaper

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The Yellow Wallpaper, the female protagonist is described as having “typical nervous
depression—hysterical tendency” a euphemism to explain the woman’s behavior that is in
conflict with the patriarchal view (Gilman, 1892). The Yellow Wallpaper is an example of how
mental illness has long been utilized as a plot device to explain the actions of the femme fatale
that do not conform to the patriarchal or societal views. Femme fatales are characterized as a
woman who tempts men into dangerous and usually destructive circumstances (Snyder, 2001).
Femme fatales are perceived as a threat to the patriarchal view and represent societal harms (Id).
In contrast the homme fatale, the male version of the femme fatale and just as dangerous and
destructive, his actions are explained and often forgiven or glorified. This contrast illustrates a
gender inequality between the portrayal of males and females in film.
The male gaze punishes women by applying disorders to behaviors that do not conform
to perceived normal feminine behaviors (Morris, 2013). The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual
aids the perception of non-normal feminine behaviors by labeling women who display
extravagant feminine qualities with a mental disorder such as the nervous depression from The
Yellow Wallpaper (Id). Females that do not conform to traditional roles of femininity are labeled
as having a defective personality and mentally ill (Id). The femme fatale is cured by personifying
more traditional feminine roles (Id). Homme fatales in contrast as the dominant patriarch of
society do not have disorders specifically for non-conformance of traditional masculine roles.
Femme fatales are sexually appealing to men until the defective personality is revealed
(Id). A femme fatale wi...


... middle of paper ...


...ntal
illness but instead a conflict with society (not moving onto traditional productive roles) so they
are presented to the spectator as mentally ill.The male gaze labels Norma and Charlotte as being
trapped by their delusions of the affluent days (Id).
A femme fatale that is shut away from society must be mentally ill so Norma’s character
is depicted as being depressed and suicidal. Both Norma and Charlotte may be labeled as having
avoidance personality disorder. Both Charlotte and Norma are reclusive but being out of touch
of society but that does not necessarily mean they are mentally ill just choosing an alternative
lifestyle.Norma chooses to believe her public wants her to return to Hollywood which is a sane
though unconventional choice.This unconventionality is against the traditional female role so a
disorder must be created and applied to justify this choice.

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