Feminist studies generally focus on the role that hysterical diagnoses and treatments played in reinforcing the prevailing, male-dominant gender roles through the subversion, manipulation and degrading of female experience through the use of medical treatments and power structures. Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “ The Yellow Wallpaper” is a perfect example of these themes. In writing this story, Charlotte Perkins Gilman drew upon her own personal experiences with hysteria. The adoption of the sick-role was a product of-and a reaction against gender norms and all of the pressures and tensions that their satisfaction demanded. Gilman’s essay uses autobiographical experiences displayed as doppelganger quality the in the main narrator of the story, Jane. Set during the late 1890s, the story shows the mental and emotional results of the typical "rest cure" prescribed during that era for neurasthenia and the narrator’s reaction to this course of treatment. It appears Gilman’s writing was focused on past experience and the anguish that arose from treatment with Dr. Silas Weir Mitchell in 1887, just two years after the birth of her daughter Katherine. But from the reader’s perspective, one and come to can assumption that expressing her negative feelings about the popular rest cure is only half of the message that Gilman wanted to send. Within the subtext of this story lies the theme of oppression: the oppression of the rights of women especially inside of marriage. Gilman was using the woman or the women behind the wallpaper to express her personal views on this issue.
The two common threads that connect Charlotte Perkins Gilman and the narrator in her story are depression or specifically a possible form of postpartum depression, and entrapment within their roles as of women. Specifically, Gilman and the narrator are trying to escape the function society has placed on them. First, after fulfilling their expected duties as wife and mother, both Gilman and the narrator...
Cited: Gilman, Charlotte Perkins.(1899) "The Yellow Wallpaper." Small & Maynard, Boston, MA, 1899. 1-9.
Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. “Why I Wrote 'The Yellow Wallpaper '?” The Forerunner (Oct. 1913): 1.
Kessler, Carol Parley. "Charlotte Perkins Gilman 1860 -1935." Modem American Women Writers. Ed. Elaine Showalter, et al. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1991. 155-169.
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