Symbolism in the Yellow Wallpaper

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The Yellow Wallpaper

The chief symbol in the story The Yellow Wallpaper was the gender roles. Women were oppressed not only by their husbands but also by other male figures. During the 1800s, men had the attempt to have a mental screen to place over women, which the yellow wallpaper itself symbolizes. The color yellow is often associated with sickness or weakness, and the writer’s mysterious illness is a symbol of man’s oppression of the female sex. The two windows, representing the probable equality of women by men, from which the narrator often looks out of to observe a world apart form her own. Thus symbolizing the entrapment the narrator roughly endorses through out her nervous depression in the story. The narrator’s husband, John, has the idea that he knows what his wife’s wants and needs are. He thinks that isolation and confinement will cure her nervous depression. Nevertheless, this “cure” makes her weak; and transforms this woman gone mad. In particular, just after one of her more innocent-sounding remarks about marriage, the narrator states, “I get unreasonably angry with John sometimes. I’m sure I never used to be so sensitive. I think it is due to this nervous condition” (Gilman, 71). Although she says it is probably due to her condition, the reader cannot help but wonder why, only a few paragraphs later, she reveals that despite her love for writing, “He hates to have me write a word” (Gilman, 72). This narrator is clearly feeling trapped in a marriage that does not allow her freedom. Meanwhile, as a man, her husband is free to come and go. This inability for her to express herself in a meaningful way eventually leads her to associate herself with the woman in the wallpaper who looks to be, like the narrator, behind bars or in a cage. The significant details about the wallpaper are that, it is merely unpleasant: it is ripped, soiled, and an “unclean yellow.”(Gilman, 72). The worst part is the ostensibly formless pattern,...
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