The Yellow Wall Paper By Charlotte Perkins Gilman

The Yellow Wall Paper By Charlotte Perkins Gilman

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Due to many male-dominated marriages in the early 19th century, some attitudes toward women were viewed as weak second-class citizens who were deprived of self-expression and individualism. In the short story The Yellow Wall-paper, Charlotte Perkins Gilman unbinds the limited roles women had in their marriages. She reveals that these women were subjected to their husbands because they were seen as vulnerable and over emotional during this time. Gilman creates an unnamed female character that is diagnosed with hysteria by her husband and physician, John. He believes the best way to cure her case of hysteria is to stay contained in her room without stimulation of any kind, which could further worsen her condition. In a secret journal she keeps from John, she writes her true feelings of her situation and the new fixation she has on the yellow wallpaper in her bedroom. Her hysteria quickly worsens when she begins to see a creature trapped behind the pattern in the wallpaper and she soon realizes that she has become the lifeless creature behind this wallpaper and she decides to escape. In The Yellow Wall-paper, Gilman constructs the psychoanalysis of a woman bound in the 19th century to portray her mental deterioration, which is caused by the subordination of her husband.
The narrator’s subordination to her husband is first emphasized by the degrading diction and details seen throughout the story. At the beginning of her illness, the couple has just moved into their summer mansion and the first phrase that she uses to describe John is “John laughs at me of course”, which is the first sign that shows he does not take her seriously (Gilman 792). She goes on to say “…but one expects that in marriage” which represents her place in their ...


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...rriage and to achieve her own self-expression to find herself. In the last few lines, the narrator says “in spite of you and Jane!” (Gilman 803). Gilman finally hints the main character’s name is Jane, which symbolizes that now her name is said, her identity is discovered and her self-expression is now free to roam after escaping the threshold of the bars in the yellow wallpaper.
Being silenced by John and constricted by the walls around her, transforms the narrator into someone who longed so much to be free that her mentality is lost in the process. Charlotte Perkins Gilman created a piece that aimed to illustrate women’s needs for self expression and the misunderstandings of women made by men in the 19th century. During this time period society illuminates the idea of male dominating marriages, a tight control of self-expression, and high expectations of behavior.

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