The Yellow Wallpaper, The Treatment And Status Of Women

The Yellow Wallpaper, The Treatment And Status Of Women

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The main and most evident theme among many in “The Yellow Wallpaper” is the treatment and status of women in society. The topic of women’s struggles and how it is portrayed in “The Yellow Wallpaper” is relevant to this literature course because various stories and discussions of said stories have been about the place of women in history and even modern times. Back in 1899 when “The Yellow Wallpaper” was written, women were not present in America’s workforce, barred from casting a ballot, and when married, husbands legally owned all of their property. In this essay, I will examine quotes and statements by the narrator, the relationship between the narrator and her husband John, and various symbols throughout the story to argue how they relate to society (at the time) as a whole. “The Yellow Wallpaper” is set in Victorian-Era America, and readers are able to grasp the struggles of women through a plethora of literary devices and symbols. Through this story, Gilman is challenging gender norms and arguing for a better system for women years before the Women’s Rights Movement.
The relationship between the narrator and her husband, John is symbolic of women’s place in both society and the household. Back in the Victorian-era when “The Yellow Wallpaper” was wrote, and long before that, men were the nearly unchallenged head of the household. As the head of the household, the male would play the dominant role while the woman was supposed to be passive and submissive. There are various examples of the traditional gender roles of the past in “The Yellow Wallpaper” such as when John restricts the narrator from writing, traveling, and being in the company of other people (“Yellow” 1). An important element of the narrator and John’s relationshi...


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...down wishes she enjoyed the same rights and freedoms as men do (“Yellow” 6).
Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” was a prominent piece of literature in her time and still today in 2015. Women’s place in society back then was much different than today, women were much like second-class citizens. “The Yellow Wallpaper” offers us a view into just one account of a woman being kept down by a man, but the story is an argument for more rights and empowerment to all women. Through symbolism, quotes throughout the story, and the relationship between the narrator and her husband, Gilman wrote an argument against the treatment of women at the time. Great women like Gilman laid the foundation of the Women’s Rights Movement and contributed to the greater standing women have in society today, and they should be applauded by everyone who truly believes in equality.

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