Search For Freedom in The Yellow Wallpaper

Search For Freedom in The Yellow Wallpaper

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The “Yellow Wall-Paper” is a reflection of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s personal situations, regarding the protection of the rights of woman. She provides a critique on traditional feminine roles, and women’s desperation to get out of them. In the short story, the author depicts the idea that women conforming to the norms of society can be driven to destruction. Her criticism  of gender conflicts is portrayed through the journal entries of the narrator. In order to illustrate her feminist concerns about gender equality, Gilman employs the characters of John, Jennie, and the narrator.

            The author makes a statement of her belief of men’s inclination to dominate woman through John’s treatment of his wife. Men who wish to have control over their wives do so by demanding, and demeaning tactics. For instance, John has “forbidden (her) to work”(631), and calls her a “blessed little goose”(633). He patronizes his wife by ignoring her early cries of help, and denies her the very things that might help her such as “companionship…(visits)”(633). It is also important to note that John, and the narrator’s brother are physicians. Together they represent the male medical establishment which contrasts female hysteria. He uses her as a stepping stone for his career even though he tells her they came to the ancestral mansion “solely on (her) account”(631). It is all a matter of control. Up until the very end of the story John is still trying to restrain his wife under his power which Gilman demonstrates when he “(faints)…right across (her) path”(642). Through John’s condescending behavior towards his wife, the author sends a clear message that most men tend to degrade their wives so as to establish their self-worth.


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...s an hysteric and prescribed a “rest cure” which prohibited her writing and labeled her feminism and social critique as symptoms for uterine illness.

The Oxford Dictionary defines feminism as an advocacy of woman’s rights and sexual equality. In this context, it would be appropriate to label Gilman as an early feminist. She is prepared to use so-called male methods of manipulation, shrewdness, and defiance. The author has clearly presented a gender confrontation, evaluates the circumstances of certain conflicts, and provides approaches to escape them.  

Works cited

-Perkins Gilman, Charlotte. “The Yellow Wall-Paper”. The Norton Introduction To Literature. U.S.: Beaty, Hunter

-Perkins Gilman, Charlotte. “Short Stories”

-“Feminism”. The Oxford Dictionary Of Current English. 1996

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