Essay #2 Illustrative
And Yellow Paved the Way
Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote a book in 1892 called “The Yellow Wallpaper”, accounting her own mental breakdown from reality in what would now be called post-partum depression in the form of a short horror story with use of symbolism and imagery. The short story depicts what a woman with depression and finally a psychotic break went through. There are femininities within this story, but the masculinities, as well, that led Gilman’s character’s mental breakdown. The 1890s was a time in history when women were not given the freedoms that most women enjoy today. Women of the 1890s obeyed their husbands without question. The man did run the house to a certain extent. He did not clean the home, but he did expect to come home to a clean house. The food was to be prepared on his schedule, and his wife was to be clean and pressed. His children were to have gone to school, and were required to be presentable to the father, should he call on them. This description is certainly not based on the average “middle income” family of today. This family dynamic was based off of Gilman’s description of her own historical time. The family described in the short story is of an upper class family. The husband can provide the financial foundation for their lifestyle, and the wife does not have to cook or clean because the family can afford to hire someone else, a nanny and maid.
To bring this notion to the present time, the upper class today can afford to pay for chefs and servants, but the rest of the 99% cannot afford such amenities. Over one hundred years later, little has changed in this regard. I believe that men were not as self-reliant in the 1890s. Most men today can certainly cook and clean for themselves, which I believe shows a weakness for the men of the 1890s. A man who cooked back then was either a chef, or of low income; someone who was less fortunate. A man did not clean his domain. For example, if...
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