For centuries women in life and literature have been portrayed as being submissive to men. Women have been oppressed by society as well as the men in their lives. The story "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman depicts a woman suffering from mental illness which is associated with the repression present in the patriarchal society. The woman's obsession with the yellow paper becomes a reflection of her desire to break free from the male dominant society.
Isolation causes the women to focus exclusively on the yellow paper and create a fascination with what is behind it. The narrator's initial dislike of the wallpaper can be described as being a critical interior decorator. However, as the story progresses she becomes obsessed with the patters and the secrets which it holds. It becomes the center of her life. As the woman's madness progresses she becomes aware of a woman's presence behind the wallpaper, and she believes this woman is trying to break through the paper's "bars". The woman caught in the wallpaper parallels the narrator's imprisonment by her husband. The narrator's husband views his wife as physically and mentally inferior. She is prohibited from doing any physical work and even writing which she enjoyed greatly. He also does not allow any inspiring friends to visit. While the narrator's perception of the wallpaper reveals her increasing madness, it also symbolizes her struggle to break through the feminine standards of the time.
The woman struggling to escape the yellow wallpaper reflects the narrator's desire to leave the house. While writing about the woman shaking the wallpaper at night, the narrator attempts to convince her husband to leave the house. Neither of the women is able to escape at that time and she continues to read into the pattern. This represents her increasing madness and frustration with her husband's dominance over her life. Even though the narrator agrees with her husband's decision not to leave the house,...
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