The Yellow Wallpaper and Feminism

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One’s freedom is a privilege that is highly regarded, but in most cases one takes it for granted. Throughout history, men have had this right handed to them, while in contrast, women either had to fight and risk all they had or accept their meek rank in society due to their sex. This disadvantage drives women to lengths they normally would not succumb to feel free of the shortcomings that history has given them. In Charlotte Perkin Gilman’s short story, “The Yellow Wallpaper,” the dominance of a patriarchal society is exposed. The verisimilitude of Gilman’s imagery of the setting lengthily describes the isolation and confinement of the narrator and their effects on her. The house she is staying in is her own prison, and is a symbol of her isolation from society. Her room with the yellow wallpaper is another representation of the narrator’s oppression and her ambition to break free from society’s unattainable standards. Gilman’s message is that if women are acknowledged as fully actualized human beings, then there would be no need for “rest cures” or any other ridiculous measures to supposedly fix any problems of theirs. The undertones of the cult of domesticity are utilized to emphasize how belittled and ignored women are. She demonstrates how the restriction the narrator undergoes causes her to lose her sanity because of measures society deems normal. What is meant to make the narrator better ultimately is what drives her insane, and through this Gilman advocates feminism and a sense of gender equality. One’s house, no matter if it is temporary or permanent, should always feel like a home when one is surrounded by people one loves. However, in this case the house is an enabler for the narrator’s isolation which leads to her mental demise. The house that the narrator’s husband, John, chooses for their family, for her sake, is, “quite alone” and “three miles from the village” (Gilman 1); as a physical representation of her separation from society, John exerts his


Cited: * Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. “The Yellow Wallpaper.” New York: The New England Magazine, 1892. Print.

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