Charlotte Perkins Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper is a commentary on the
male oppression of women in a patriarchal society. However, the story itself
presents an interesting look at one woman's struggle to deal with both physical
and mental confinement. This theme is particularly thought-provoking when read
in today's context where individual freedom is one of our most cherished rights.
This analysis will focus on two primary issues: 1) the many vivid images Gilman
uses to illustrate the physical and symbolic confinement the narrator endures
during her illness; and 2) the overall effect of, and her reaction to, this
The Yellow Wallpaper begins with the narrator's description of the
physically confining elements surrounding her. The story is cast in an isolated
hereditary estate, set back from the road and located three miles from town.
The property boasts protective hedges that surround the garden, walls that
surround the estate, and locked gates which guarantee seclusion. Even the
connecting garden represents confinement, with box-bordered paths and grape-
covered arbors. This isolation motif continues within the mansion itself.
Although she preferred the downstairs room with roses all over the windows that
opened on the piazza, the narrator finds herself relegated to an out of the way
dungeon-like nursery on the second floor, appropriately equipped with "rings and
things" in the walls. Windows in each direction provide glimpses of the garden,
arbors, bushes, and trees. The bay is visible, as is a private wharf that
adjoins the estate. These views reinforce isolationism; they can be seen from
the room, but not touched or experienced. There is a gate at the head of the
stairs, presumably to keep the children contained in their play area.
Additionally, the bed is immovable as it has been nailed to the floor. It is
here that the narrator secretly describes her slow decent into madness.... [continues]
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(1999, 10). The Yellow Wallpaper: Male Oppression of Women in Society. StudyMode.com. Retrieved 10, 1999, from http://www.studymode.com/essays/Yellow-Wallpaper-Male-Oppression-Women-Society-2018.html
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"The Yellow Wallpaper: Male Oppression of Women in Society." StudyMode.com. 10, 1999. Accessed 10, 1999. http://www.studymode.com/essays/Yellow-Wallpaper-Male-Oppression-Women-Society-2018.html.