Yellow Wall Paper By Gilman Essay Research

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Signs of society?s sexism in The Yellow Wall-Paper The Yellow Wallpaper is a

story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Although the work is short it is one of the

most interesting works in existence. Gilman uses literary techniques very well.

The symbolism of The Yellow Wall-Paper can be seen and employed after some

thought and make sense immediately. The views and ideals of society are often

found in literary works. Whether the author is trying to show the ills of

society of merely telling a story culture is woven onto the words. The

relationship between the narrator and her husband would be disagreeable to a

modern woman?s relationship. Today most women crave equality with their

partner. The reader never learns the name of the narrator perhaps to give the

illusion that she could be any woman. On the very fist page of The Yellow

Wall-Paper Gilman illustrates the male dominated society and relationship. It

was customary for men to assume that their gender knew what when how and why

to do things. John the narrator?s husband is a prominent doctor and both his

and his wife?s words and actions reflect the aforementioned stereotype:

?John laughs at me of course but one expects that in marriage ? (9). This

statement illustrates the blatant sexism of society at the time. John does not

believe that his wife is sick while she is really suffering from post-partum

depression. He neglects to listen to his wife in regard to her thoughts

feelings and health through this thought pattern. According to him there is

not anything wrong with his wife except for temporary nerve issues which should

not be serious. By closing her off from the rest of the world he is taking her

away from things that important to her mental state; such as her ability to read

and write her need for human interaction her need to make her own decisions.

All of these are important to all people. This idea of forced rest and

relaxation to cure temporary nervous problems was very common at the time. Many

doctors prescribed it for their female patients. The narrators husband brother

and their colleagues all feel that this is the correct way to fix her problem

which is practically nonexistent in their eyes. Throughout the beginning of the

story the narrator tends to buy into the idea that the man is always right and

makes excuses for her feelings and his actions and words: ?It is so hard to

talk to John about my case because he is so wise and because he loves me so ?

(23). In a good relationship each partner should be able to express one?s own

thoughts and feelings. Honesty in one of the most important characteristics a

relationship should have. In this case the narrator feels that she can not tell

him how she feels so as not to upset him and make him mad. When the narrator

does attempt to have a discussion with John she ends up crying and not being

able to express herself. John treats her like a child as men believed that

crying something that women do and is something that shows weakness. Eventually

she begins to become frightened of John and as she goes bad his normalcy is

seen as queer through in her eyes. For a long time it was customary for the

house to be able to represent a secure place for a woman. Her house was a

woman?s place of residency as well as where women were to do their work and

express themselves. In The Yellow Wall-Paper the house is not even the

couple?s own. It is a summer rental and the narrator is forced to reside and

spent the majority of her time in a room that is unpleasant to her tastes. This

house reverses the traditional symbol of security for the domestic activities of

a woman. However it becomes a place for her to release her words onto paper and

eventually to release her grip on reality. The room and many of it?s features

twist the common comforts of a home. The room itself used to be a nursery which

is ironic since the narrator was sent to the house to recover from post partum

depression. The narrator comments: ?The window typically represents a view of

possibilities. However for the narrator it represents a view of a world that

she can not be a part of. The window is physically barred as she is barred from

the world physically and mentally. The bed is nailed down. The bed should be a

place of comfort for a couple not a place where one partner is forced into a

life that she does not want to live in that way. As the title of the work

shows there is obviously something interesting to the narrator about the

wallpaper. The stripes in the print of the wallpaper represent bars and the

narrator begins to see a figure behind them: ?The front pattern does

move?and no wonder! The woman behind shakes it. Sometimes I think there are a

great many women behind and sometimes only one ? (30). While the woman behind

the bars shakes them the narrator can not shake the bars that keep her away

from reality. The woman represents the narrator as well as women in general and

the movement for women?s rights. The narrator also can represent any woman and

the struggle that woman went though to get closer to achieving equality.

John?s sister Jennie comes to help take care of the narrator. Jennie is the

epitome of a woman who falls into the conventional female role: ?She is a

perfect and enthusiastic housekeeper and hopes for no better profession ?

(18). The narrator attempts to keep her writing a secret from Jennie so that

her one outlet will not be taken away. At some times it seems as though the

narrator pities Jennie and feels sorry for Jennie?s pathetic views. As the

narrator descends into madness her views on society change and become more

modern. She is emancipating herself from the docile role that a woman should

play. Gilman uses the narrator and the symbolism in The Yellow Wall-Paper to

show society?s views on women. The narrator eventually goes against common

culture and becomes a feminist. Men thought the feminist movement was weak and

useless while comparatively men like John thought their wives were weak and

useless outside the home. At the story?s conclusion the narrator was

directing her own footsteps and in reality women are doing the same.