The Theme of Power in Yellow Wallpaper and Bartleby

The Theme of Power in Yellow Wallpaper and Bartleby

Length: 2697 words (7.7 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

The Theme of Power in Yellow Wallpaper and Bartleby

    Many texts written in the nineteenth century have a very apparent theme of power. Authority can be seen very differently depending on the view of the transcript the audience is presented with. By looking at different transcripts within the text the reader has more realistic exposure to the resistance of power in that text. This paper will prove that transcripts of differing views allow for different interpretations of the power struggle itself. Using James C. Scott this paper will examine the transcripts of both Charlotte Perkins Gilman's, "The Yellow Wallpaper" and Herman Melville's "Bartleby." These two texts are opposite in many ways, which make them fascinating to study through Scotts eyes, because together they extensively cover the four situations he focuses on.

The first transcript which Scott discusses is that of the public's view. He describes that "the public transcript is to put it crudely, the self-portrait of dominant elites as they would have themselves seen"(18). Since the narrator of "Bartleby" is a member of the "dominant elite" this text is a great example of how the public transcript is used to show resistance and power. Text written from this point of view, focus on trying to make the elite seem good, just, and noble. The narrator of this text did a wonderful job at doing just that. At one point while talking about Bartleby he told the audience "Not only did there seem to lurk in it a certain calm disdain, but his perverseness seemed ungrateful, considering the undeniable good usage and indulgence he had received from me"(Melville 18). The narrator was basically saying, I was so good to Bartleby, how dare he not appreciate all my kindness. It is...

... middle of paper ...

...isplay, how within texts there could be many different forms of resistance and views of authority, depending on the transcripts used to understand them. Each text read in this class, on the surface value, provides an entertaining story, however the same text through deeper reading are able to decode much more complex plots. On the surface Bartleby is just a very strange employee, and the narrator of Gilman's story is just an insane woman, but by digging further this paper was able to display much more intensity to them both.

Works Cited

Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. "The Yellow Wallpaper" and other Stories. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, Inc., 1997.

Melville, Herman. Bartleby and Benito Cereno. 3rd ed. NY: Dover Publications, Inc., 1990.

Scott, James C. Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990.

Need Writing Help?

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

Check your paper »

The Yellow Wallpaper By Charlotte Gilman

- "The Yellow Wallpaper" by the American writer Charlotte Gilman published in 1892 displays a gothic theme of the gender divide and inequality between men and women in this time period . This short story follows the journal of a woman who is struggling with a serious mental illness , and how she is perceived and criticized by others close to her. Throughout the story we see her descend from sanity due to the lack of knowledge at the time, as well as the mistreatment of women. Gilman craftily conveys this woman 's experience in such an accurate way because she herself suffered from a similar illness and was put under the "rest cure”....   [tags: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper]

Powerful Essays
1361 words (3.9 pages)

The Yellow Wallpaper, By Charlotte Gilman

- Author Charlotte Gilman in “The Yellow Wallpaper” gives a personal short story about mental health care during her time. This account is personal, as the character in the story has experiences close to what author Gilman had during her period of receiving the ‘resting cure’ (Gilman). While many themes are described in the short story, the theme of passive health-care is especially prominent. The story delves into particular detail with the administration and effects of the resting cure in regards to the main character’s mental state....   [tags: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper]

Powerful Essays
991 words (2.8 pages)

The Yellow Wallpaper, By Charlotte Perkins Gilman

- During the Victorian Era and late 1800’s, the conventional norms of society prevented women from ever attaining true independence and freedom. This was a direct result of the expectations that women were supposed to fulfill their household duties and devote their live towards their family, which prohibited them from achieving bliss and self-happiness. Subsequently, Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote her sensational short story, ”The Yellow Wallpaper,” in 1983 and illustrates a couple in which the power is unequally divided; the husband is a doctor and he makes all the decisions in the household....   [tags: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper]

Powerful Essays
1026 words (2.9 pages)

Essay on Jane's Search for Self-identity in The Yellow Wallpaper

- Jane's Search for Self-identity in The Yellow Wallpaper     "The Yellow Wallpaper," written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman in the late nineteenth century, explores the dark forbidding world of one woman's plunge into a severe post-partum depressive state. The story presents a theme of the search for self-identity. Through interacting with human beings and the environment, the protagonist creates for herself a life of her own. Charlotte Gilman, through the first person narrator, speaks to the reader of the stages of psychic disintegration by sharing the narrator's heightened perceptions: "That spoils my ghostliness, I am afraid, but I don't care--there is something strange about the house--I...   [tags: The Yellow Wallpaper Essays]

Powerful Essays
617 words (1.8 pages)

Confinement in The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

- Confinement in The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman      Charlotte Perkins Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper is a commentary on the male oppression of women in a patriarchal society.  However, the story itself presents an interesting look at one woman's struggle to deal with both physical and mental confinement.  This theme is particularly thought-provoking when read in today's context where individual freedom is one of our most cherished rights. This analysis will focus on two primary issues: 1) the many vivid images Gilman uses to illustrate the physical and symbolic confinement the narrator endures during her illness; and 2) the overall effect of, and her reac...   [tags: Yellow Wallpaper essays Gilman]

Powerful Essays
1373 words (3.9 pages)

The Gender Politics of Work Exposed in The Yellow Wallpaper

- The Gender Politics of Work Exposed in The Yellow Wallpaper      The literature of the nineteenth century cataloged the social, economical and political changes during its period. Through it many new concerns and ideologies were proposed and made their journeys through intellectual spheres that have endured and kept their relevance in our own period today. The literature, sometimes quite overtly, introduced the issues arising with the changes in society specifically due to the industrial revolution....   [tags: Yellow Wallpaper essays]

Free Essays
2465 words (7 pages)

The Yellow Wallpaper

- Within the troubling novel, The Yellow Wallpaper, the theme in which action takes place is very significant. The woman, who seemingly suffered from post-partum depression, searches for some sort of peace in her male dominated world. The woman’s increasingly intense obsession with the wallpaper leaves the reader with many questions about male-female relationships and perhaps even insanity. Therefore, the manipulation of theme allows the author to delicately introduce symbols in the text. The yellow wallpaper itself is the most obvious symbol that represents the protagonist’s mindset....   [tags: Literary Analysis, Gilman]

Powerful Essays
1402 words (4 pages)

The Yellow Wallpaper

- The psychologically thrilling story of “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman explores the dark and twisted aspect of the American society in the nineteenth century. Through the use of theme, Gilman creatively captures the cultural subordination and struggles women faced on a regular basis. The first theme present in the horrific and heart wrenching story is the subordinate position of women within marriage. “The Yellow Wallpaper” begins with the narrator’s wish that her house were haunted like those in which “frightened heroines suffer Gothic horrors” (DeLamotte 5)....   [tags: Literary Analysis, Charlotte Perkins Gilman]

Powerful Essays
1114 words (3.2 pages)

The Yellow Wallpaper and The Chrysanthemums

- Restraints are set by parents on their children to aid with the developmental process and help with the maturity level. Restrictions and the ability to control exist in our society and our lives. We encounter restraints daily: job, doors, people, and the most frequently used and arduous become intangible. In the following stories tangible and intangible scenarios are presented. Autonomy, desires, and talents spurned by the husbands in John Steinbeck’s “The Chrysanthemums and Charlotte Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper.” The authors share views regarding a similar theme of male domination and imprisonment....   [tags: Comparative, Allen, Steinbeck]

Powerful Essays
1015 words (2.9 pages)

The Yellow Wallpaper

- In a female oppressive story about a woman driven from postpartum depression to insanity, Charlotte Gilman uses great elements of literature in her short story, The Yellow Wallpaper. Her use of feminism and realism demonstrates how woman's thoughts and opinions were considered in the early 1900?s. The theme of this story is feminism. Having gone through postpartum depression herself, Gilman?s story was strongly personal. During the time period that she wrote it, woman?s rights were limited. The character in this story felt she knew ways to recover herself from her depression, or ?baby blues?....   [tags: Charlotte Gilman]

Free Essays
339 words (1 pages)