The Yellow Wallpaper: Male Opression of Women in Society
Charlotte Perkins Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper is a commentary on themale oppression of women in a patriarchal society. However, the story itselfpresents an interesting look at one woman's struggle to deal with both physicaland mental confinement. This theme is particularly thought-provoking when readin 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 Gilmanuses to illustrate the physical and symbolic confinement the narrator enduresduring her illness; and 2) the overall effect of, and her reaction to, thisconfinement.
The Yellow Wallpaper begins with the narrator's description of thephysically confining elements surrounding her. The story is cast in an isolatedhereditary estate, set back from the road and located three miles from town.The property boasts protective hedges that surround the garden, walls thatsurround the estate, and locked gates which guarantee seclusion. Even theconnecting 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 thatopened on the piazza, the narrator finds herself relegated to an out of the waydungeon-like nursery on the second floor, appropriately equipped with "rings andthings" 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 thatadjoins the estate. These views reinforce isolationism; they can be seen fromthe room, but not touched or experienced. There is a gate at the head of thestairs, presumably to keep the children contained in their play area.Additionally, the bed is immovable as it has been nailed to the floor. It ishere that the narrator secretly describes her slow decent into madness.Although the physical...
Cited: ilman, Charlotte Perkins. "The Yellow Wallpaper." English 2307. Comp. JaneBell. n.p., c.1996. 3-7.Kennard, Jean. "Convention Coverage or How to Read Your Own Life."Charlotte Perkins Gilman: The Woman and Her Work. Ed. Sheryl Meyering.Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1989. 75-94.
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