The Yellow Wallpaper

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The Yellow Wallpaper
The Yellow Wallpaper uses symbols to show the hardship that women had to endure to fight oppression. By showing these hardships, we gain the knowledge that we don’t always make the right decisions. We believe that we are giving people freedom when in turn we are oppressing them even more. Gilman uses symbols throughout her story in a variety of ways. In The Yellow Wallpaper Gillman uses the house to symbolize a body. The speaker describes the outside as “beautiful and delicious. The most beautiful place! It is quite alone, standing well back from the road, quite three miles from the village. It makes me think of English places that you read about, for there are hedges and walls and gates that lock, and lots of separate little houses for the gardeners and people. There is a delicious garden! I never saw such a garden large and shady, full of box-bordered paths, and lined with long grape-covered arbors with seats under them. This quote gives you an elegant image in your mind. This is how the speaker is viewed from the outside, Impeccable. The Cambridge Ladies document Furnished Souls gives a further insight of how the house represents a body. E. E. Cummings describes the Cambridge ladies as “ladies who live in furnished souls.” The term furnished is used to describe a house’s interior. This is further exemplified when Cummings describes the women as “unbeautiful, comfortable, unscented, and shapeless”, all of these words describing the interior or exterior of a house. Dr. Nazmi AL-Shalabi describes the house as a body into even deeper detail in his article House as a Container- Seven Gables. Dr. Nazmi AL-Shalabi writes “[…] Regard the house as the symbolic body and spirit of man.” He compares the house to the human body: the “noble and beautiful parts” exposed, the “ignoble but essential parts” hidden. Dr. Nazmi views the Italian villa as a “compact organism, with each work designed as if members were joined symmetrically to a central spine.” These quotes represent essential parts of the human body used to describe the seven gables. Another quote where the house symbolizes a body is “[…] the human dwelling is like the human personality: it consists of both body and spirit.” Dr. Nazmi blatantly states that a house is like the body of a person, the physical parts of house representing the body and the imaginative parts of the house representing the spirit.

In The Yellow Wallpaper Gillman uses the moon to symbolize a woman. She proves this in The Yellow Wallpaper when she states “That was clever, for really I wasn't alone a bit! As soon as it was moonlight and that poor thing began to crawl and shake the pattern, I got up and ran to help her.” This quote shows that the woman appears whenever the moon comes out. The moon symbolizing a woman is further show by the Greek god Artemis. Artemis is a female goddess that represents the moon. The prototypical metaphors document mentions states; Whereas the (female) moon is weak, a mere reflection of the sun, much like the stereotypical woman who reflects or derives power from men. Similarly, like the stereotypical female, old age is portrayed as passive, a mere consequence of time, which holds the power or control over aging. Donald G. MacKay proves moon symbolizes a woman further when he includes that “[...] old age and the moon are passive, soft, and weak (as the stereotypical female is).”

Gillman uses John to represent a stereotypical male. She proves this when she writes “Then he took me in his arms and called me a blessed little goose, and said he would go down to the cellar, if I wished, and have it whitewashed into the bargain.” This quote shows John comforting the speaker as a stereotypical man should. He is also being obedient when he states that he will go to the cellar if the speaker wishes him to, obedience is associated with the stereotypical man as well.

In the Yellow Wallpaper Gillman uses the bed in the Yellow Wallpaper to...