Charlotte Perkins Gilman had problems. Most of those problems resulted from her nervous condition that was previously termed “melancholia.” She did not give in – Gilman was a fighter. Instead of bowing to the disease, she wrote “The Yellow Wallpaper,” a story intended to help other women suffering from a similar fate. Although this explanation reveals why Gilman wrote the book, it does not reveal the true intention of the story. This is not merely the tale of an insane woman. The narrator’s insanity is a symbol for Gilman’s commentary on the evils of social conformity with relevance to the role of women in society. The narrator comes to realize the inhumanity in society’s treatment of women, and, as a result of her awakening, she cannot help but visualize her own torment brought on by the old yellow wallpaper that hangs around her, a faded cage. The narrator’s name is left a mystery in order to give her universal appeal. The narrator could be and is every wife, every mother, every daughter, every woman. Gilman uses imagery and literary devices to convey her moral of the mistreatment of women in the 19th century.
The first striking image that readers of "The Yellow Wallpaper" are presented with is not that of a room, it is not of the house, but of the character of John, the husband. John is described as a man of a "practical and ext...
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King, Jeanette, and Pam Morris. "On Not Reading Between the Lines: Models of Reading in 'The Yellow Wallpaper.'" Studies in Short Fiction 26.1 (Winter 1989): 23-32.
Knight, Denise D. "The Reincarnation of Jane: 'Through This' - Gilman's Companion to 'The Yellow Wallpaper.'" Women's Studies 20 (1992): 287-302.
Rigney, Barbara Hill. Madness and Sexual Politics in the Feminist Novel: Studies in Bronte, Woolf, Lessing, and Atwood. Madison, WI: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1978.
Russell, Denise. Women, Madness and Medicine. Cambridge, MA: Polity Press, 1995.
Showalter, Elaine. The Female Malady: Women, Madness, and English Culture, 1830-1980. New York: Pantheon Books, 1985.
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