Within Gilman’s short story entitled “The Yellow Wallpaper,” there is a force of oppression in John that symbolizes the whole of Victorian patriarchal society, a society which Gilman fought to eradicate throughout the nineteenth century with countless speeches and works of literature. The “rest cure” that Gilman had endured and that the narrator experienced, “…enforced passivity, lack of physical exercise, lack of intellectual stimulation, and that prescription that a woman must return home and devote herself to her husband and children…an exaggerated version of the expected role of women, the very set of expectations that caused many of them to become neurasthenic in the first place” (Quawas). This “cure” oppressed women into the infantile role that was required of them, forcing them to have complete dependence on their husband and child for a sense of purpose because all other intellectual stimulation was withheld from them, reinforcing the male’s primary role. Within the story, John isolates his wife in a place that will suffocate and stifle any intellectual freedom she may have had and forbids her to write so she will not be allowed the privilege of exercising her own thoughts. John represents Dr. Mitchell, a symbol of the medical field of the time and a force that withholds intellectual stimulus and renders the woman into submission of her expected role. Masking his true motives behind affection, John enforces th...
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...ver; the domineering force no longer present. After all, insanity “ ‘…need not be all breakdown. It may also be breakthrough’” (qtd. In Quawas).
Often works of literature are sparked by personal experience, when some realization about the human experience needs to be shared to improve conditions and make a change. This is true for most authors, especially Charlotte Perkins Gilman, who derived her inspiration from a personal experience with postpartum depression, the resulting treatment, and the movement for gender equality that played a large role in her life and her life’s mission. Through this work, she exposed people in a creative way to the injustices that women faced in the nineteenth century and showed that women could break free from their bondages that society had placed on them if they only rallied together to make a change for the betterment of society.
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