The Yellow Wallpaper By Perkins Gilman

The Yellow Wallpaper By Perkins Gilman

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Women have been taught that they are inferior to men and because of this, many have developed low self-esteem and mental illnesses. Depriving one of many basic rights while also telling them that they are the lesser gender can severely damage one psychologically. Charlotte Perkins Gilman challenged the mental abuse towards women in her short story, “The Yellow Wallpaper.” Perkins Gilman highlighted how men and even other women made women out to be lesser creatures than men. The main character, Jane, is pent up in a room by the hands of her husband and brother to “cure” her. She is looked after by her sister-in-law, Jeannie, and after being confined and not allowed to do anything productive, her sanity breaks. This story illustrates the harmful mental effects of centuries of women being socially confined and oppressed.

“The Yellow Wallpaper” cleverly disguises the perpetual persecution of women as the pattern on the wallpaper and the female gender as the women behind it. Jane is the only person who can see the woman. This symbolizes Jane’s awareness to gender oppression while majority are blind to it. As Melissa Barth said in her article also titled “The Yellow Wallpaper,” “her visions of the … woman trapped behind her bedroom’s wallpaper symbolize her own binding and oppression”
When she is describing the woman, she states that “she is all the time trying to climb through. But nobody could climb through that pattern--it strangles so.” By saying the pattern “strangles,” she is indicating that the oppression that is denoted by the pattern is suffocating.

The oppression is so deep-rooted into our culture that even many women do not realize and push the same harmful ideals onto their own gender. When talking about her sister in l...


... middle of paper ...


...By this, Perkins Gilman is trying to convey how women cannot act they way they want to in front of anyone, not even their own husbands. Daylight symbolizes being in public, and since the woman is always creeping, she is always acting the way she wants to. Jane “free[s] her by gradually peeling back her wallpaper prison” (Barth, 2004) which allows her to “creep” around as she pleases. This illustrates women breaking out of their oppression and being free to be themselves.

There are many ways women have been oppressed: general oppression, oppression by the same gender, and oppression by another gender. Women have overcome so many obstacles over the years, but we still have a long way to go. Perkins Gilman’s story brought many of these issues to light. She wrote about the abuse and that eventually, the female gender will persevere and break free from their oppression.

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