Oppression and Need for Escape in the Yellow Wallpaper

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The Yellow Wallpaper
History has shown that women were considered second-class citizens for much of the nineteenth century, oppressed by the opposite sex for being “weak”. This oppression is not uncommon to literature; in fact, it has become usual to read about many of the societal obstacles that women had to surpass in order to advance to freedom. In the story, “The Yellow Wallpaper”, Charlotte Perkins Gilman uses the protagonist—also the narrator—to portray the repression of women during this time period. The anonymous narrator begins the story by telling of her husband and their summer home. Initially all seems well, however the reader comes to find that the entire story is a compilation of writings that were written in secret; the reader finds that the narrator’s husband is also her physician, who is attempting to cure her alleged illness—a nervous disorder—by restricting her to all-day rest. Although the narrator struggles to fight her nervous disorder, ultimately, she finds herself trying to break free from her husband’s control; Gilman uses the symbol of the oppressive yellow wallpaper to illustrate the narrator’s emotional subjugation and ultimate need for escape from her husband. The narrators lack of freedom and subjugated identity, are symbolized through the yellow wallpaper. When the wallpaper is introduced toward the beginning of the story, its color is described as “repellant, almost revolting; a smouldering unclean yellow, strangely faded by the slow-turning sunlight” (p 317). Here, the narrator is very descriptive for the dislike of this wallpaper. This is especially pointed out through the analogy of cacophony, as it gives off a harsh and bothered tone. The use of the words such as, “repellant” and “revolting,” used to describe the wallpaper, give off a feeling for the wallpaper that is almost sickening; this in a sense can be representative of the narrator’s illness. Since this wallpaper surrounds her at all times to remind her of...
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