Yellow Wall Paper

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by Farnaz Kermaani

Yellow Wall Paper

Reflecting their role in society, women in literature are often portrayed in a position that is dominated by men. Especially in the nineteenth century, women were repressed and controlled by their husbands as well as other male influences. "The Yellow Wallpaper", written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, is a story of a woman, her psychological difficulties and her husband's so called therapeutic treatment of her aliments during the late 1800s. The story begins with a young woman and her husband traveling to the country for the summer and for the healing powers of being away from writing which just seems to worsen her condition. Upon reading this intense description of an almost prison like prescription for overcoming "temporary nervous depression" the reader is permeated with the idea the men are nothing more than the wardens in the lives of women. In the story the protagonist is oppressed and represents the effect of the oppression of women in society. This effect is created by the use of complex symbols such as the house, the window, and the wall-paper which facilitate her oppression as well as her self expression.

Usually we find the symbol of the house as representing a secure place for a woman's transformation and her release of self expression. However, in this story, the house is not her own and she does not want to be in it. She declares it is "haunted,"(4) and that "there is something queer about it."(4) Although she acknowledges the beauty of the house and especially what surrounds it, she constantly goes back to her feeling that "there is something strange about the house"(4). Her impression is like a premonition for the transformation that takes place in herself while she is there. In this way the house still is the cocoon for her transformation. It does not take the form of the traditional symbol of security for the domestic activities of a woman, but it does allow for and contain her metamorphosis. The...
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