Feminism, Womanhood, and The Yellow Wallpaper

Feminism, Womanhood, and The Yellow Wallpaper

Length: 2210 words (6.3 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Feminism, Womanhood, and The Yellow Wallpaper

 
    The Victorian period in American history spawned a certain view of women that in many ways has become a central part of gender myths still alive today, although in a diluted way.

In this essay, some characteristics of this view of women, often called "The Cult of True Womanhood", will be explored with reference to Thomas R. Dew "Dissertation on the Characteristic Differences Between the Sexes (1835). Some of the feminist developments arising in conflict with this ideal will also be traced. Then, in accordance with my view that literature and culture is often interrelated, I will proceed by with an analysis of Charlotte Perkins Gilman's short story "The Yellow Wallpaper" as a critique of the gender roles of the time, commenting on its symbolism as well as its plot development.

The 19th century was a time of male dominance more extreme than has been seen ever since. Dew portrays the woman as a weak and dependent creature that needs to be protected by "the shield of woman", Man. Therefore, she is to be confined to a sphere of her own: Home. This reflects two of the cardinal characteristics of True Womanhood (as defined by men, of course), the ideal woman of this period. Those are submissiveness and domesticity. It was widely believed that women were created inferior to men, and should therefore be commanded "within the domestic circle".

Support to this view was to be found in the Bible (which, not incidentally, is written by men), and although Dew is not so concerned with them, there were two other main characteristics of the perfect Victorian woman; piety and purity, characteristics that "delight and fascinate". Apart from subtle allusions such as "...at her shri...


... middle of paper ...


...ted normal womanhood to her, she felt that she was the anomaly. In this psychological conflict she saw herself trapped behind bars of male rule, and her yearning for freedom became destructive.

Not so in real life, thankfully. the feminists succeeded in overthrowing the male regime. Or did they? The Cult of True Womanhood is, in some ways, still with us.

Works Cited and Consulted

Dew, Thomas R. "Dissertation on the Characteristic Differences Between the Sexes (1835)". Breidlid, Brøgger et.al.: American Culture. An Anthology of Civilization Texts (1996), pp. 102-103.

Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. "The Yellow Wallpaper". Baym et.al.: The Norton Anthology of American Literature vol.2, 4.ed., pp. 645-657.

Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. "Why I Wrote 'The Yellow Wallpaper'?". Baym et.al.: The Norton Anthology of American Literature vol.2, 4.ed.pp.657-658.

 

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Symbolism Of An Hour And The Yellow Wallpaper

- Historically, the term feminism and its revolutionary nature are attributed to a majority of the twentieth century.1 While the epicenter of feminism for women, indeed, had its place during that time, certain female writers from the nineteenth century shed the roots of the movements through the pages of their fiction tales. By opposing to the expectations of womanhood and implicitly rebelling against the phallocentrism of literature in the portrayal of females, Kate Chopin and Charlotte Perkins Gilman utilize symbolism to criticize the injustices of their time....   [tags: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Feminism, Emotion, Woman]

Powerful Essays
1137 words (3.2 pages)

Rhetorical Analysis Of Gilman 's The Yellow Wallpaper

- No one literary theory is specific enough to explain a literary body of work, various approaches are needed to truly analyze and evaluate the structured themes in literature. The Feminist Approach is the most common literary device used in theorizing Charlotte Perkin Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper; the story is a tale of a Victorian Age woman controlled by a patriarchal society, which is not in question. The second most common approach is the Psychoanalyze criticism, our protagonist Jane is most likely suffering from post-partum depression as theorized by Beate Schöpp-Schilling....   [tags: Feminism, Gender role, Literary criticism, Woman]

Powerful Essays
846 words (2.4 pages)

Charlotte Gilman 's The Yellow Wallpaper

- “I never saw so much expression in an inanimate object before.” (The Yellow Wallpaper) In order to understand Charlotte Gilman’s stories one must first know about the life she lead. In 1884 Charlotte married her husband Charles Walter Stetson and began to sink into depression. During this time Gilman wrote her famous story The Yellow Wallpaper (Radcliffe). Within the story the reader can pick out parts of Gilman’s own life woven into it. Gilman, like the main character Jane had postpartum depression as a result of this she divorced Stetson and sent their daughter to live with him and his second wife....   [tags: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Woman]

Powerful Essays
1354 words (3.9 pages)

The Yellow Wallpaper, By Charlotte Perkins Gilman

- The emotional, sexual, and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says, "It 's a girl." “The Yellow Wallpaper” is a short story that was written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. The short story engages stereotypes of women in society. In the story, Gilman introduces us to the character Jane, who happens to be the narrator of the short story, as a sick individual experiencing physical pain. However, not only is she sick physically, one can see that she is disturbed about the society’s views of women....   [tags: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Gender role]

Powerful Essays
2343 words (6.7 pages)

The Yellow Wallpaper: Women’s Rights in the Nineteenth Century

- A house is not a home if no one lives there. During the nineteenth century, the same could be said about a woman concerning her role within both society and marriage. The ideology of the Cult of Domesticity, especially prevalent during the late 1800’s, emphasized the notion that a woman’s role falls within the domestic sphere and that females must act in submission to males. One of the expected jobs of a woman included bearing children, despite the fact that new mothers frequently experienced post-partum depression....   [tags: Charlotte Perkins Gilman]

Powerful Essays
2676 words (7.6 pages)

Confined Women of the Nineteenth Century Essay

- In Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” and Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth, both authors provide evidence for readers to conceptualize the stories through the critical lens of feminism. “The Yellow Wallpaper” is a story about the unnamed narrator who is taken to an ancestral home by her husband John to be treated for her nervous depression. Meanwhile, she develops a strong dislike for the yellow wallpaper in the bedroom that the narrator is restricted to. The narrator ultimately becomes hopelessly insane in hopes of relieving the women trapped by the wallpaper....   [tags: The Yellow Wallpaper, They House of Mirth]

Powerful Essays
2191 words (6.3 pages)

Feminism in Charlotte Gilman and Alice Walker's Literature Essay

- What is Feminism. How does feminism affect the world we live in today. Was feminism always present in history, and if so why was it such a struggle for women to gain the respect they rightly deserve. Many authors are able to express their feelings and passions about this subject within their writing. When reading literary works, one can sense the different feminist stages depending on the timeframe that the writing takes place. Two such works are ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ by, Charlotte Gilman and ‘Everyday Use’ by, Alice Walker; the feminist views within each story are very apparent by the era each author lives in....   [tags: women, economic independence, struggle]

Powerful Essays
2277 words (6.5 pages)

The Cult of True Womanhood and The Yellow Wallpaper

- The Cult of True Womanhood and The Yellow Wallpaper Prior to the twentieth century, men assigned and defined women’s roles.  Although all women were effected by men determining women’s behavior, largely middle class women suffered.  Men perpetrated an ideological prison that subjected and silenced women.  This ideology, called the Cult of True Womanhood, legitimized the victimization of women.  The Cult of Domesticity and the Cult of Purity were the central tenets of the Cult of True Womanhood....   [tags: Yellow Wallpaper essays]

Free Essays
1155 words (3.3 pages)

The Yellow Wallpaper : A Feminist Work

- The Yellow Wallpaper; a Feminist Work The Women’s Suffrage Movement was a huge epidemic that involved people all around the world. Women simply wanted to receive the amount of appreciation and respect that the men did. The Yellow Wall-Paper was published in January on 1892 by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, who was not only known for her writing, but also her Women’s Rights activism. The timeline of the Women’s Suffrage Movement took place throughout the years of 1848 to 1920. Due to the way that the narrators’ husband, John, treated her while being ill in The Yellow Wall-paper, it is thought that this shorty story was written to highlight the problems for women during this time period....   [tags: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper]

Powerful Essays
1002 words (2.9 pages)

The Yellow Wallpaper as an Attack on Radical Feminism

- The Yellow Wallpaper as an Attack on Radical Feminism              “The Yellow Wallpaper” explores mental illness and, through this exploration, presents a critique of the place of women in a patriarchal society. Interestingly, Charlotte Perkins Gilman never intended the latter. The primary intent of her short story is to criticize of a physician prescribed treatment called rest cure. The treatment, which she underwent, required female patients to “’live as domestic a life as possible’” (Gilman)....   [tags: Yellow Wallpaper essays]

Powerful Essays
1143 words (3.3 pages)