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Control and Feminism in The Yellow Wallpaper

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1006 words Published: 18th May 2020

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The message in “The Yellow Wallpaper” demonstrates how Gilman is treated by her husband. Being able to have Gilman shed her life “experience with mental illness” (248) helps generate an idea of what it was like in the 1900s as a woman who needed help, assurance, attention, and interaction. Nothing could have overpowered this short story because it is such a strengthening experience for another woman. For example, this story is “Widely read and taught as a feminist allegory, the story has been seen as a protest against the rest cure and a critique of patriarchal medicine” (Bittel). This means some people do not accept the fact women are being treated like children and not being given the appropriate treatment to get well. Men like the narrators’ husband John should not be able to hold the authority to what happens to a woman through sickness and health. Because of the husband’s patriarchy obsession over Jane, she experiences the isolation effectiveness, Jane shows us her self-expression, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman portrays the world of feminism.

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Throughout the story “The Yellow Wallpaper” reported by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, it shows how the narrator is driven into insanity. The narrator also named Jane who happens to suffer from postpartum depression and is put on bed rest to be isolated from the world. Because of this, she is set up in an attic covered in a yellow wallpaper. She has never been caged in for so long, so she starts to hallucinate over the yellow wallpaper because “The front pattern does move – and no wonder! The woman behind shakes it!” (258). Jane feels trapped and later will realize what the isolation is doing to her because she becomes the woman behind the yellow wallpaper due to her saying “I’ve got out at last,” (260).  Her isolation leads to trauma which “is defined as a type of psychic damage which occurs as a result of a traumatic event or process” (Aksehir). The connection others could make to this story was baffling because Charlotte Gilman’s short story happened to be relatable. She was able to share her story of how she was kept from the world and treated unimportantly by her husband who was also her physician.

The Yellow Wallpaper: is also a self-expression perspective because Charlotte Perkins Gilman expressed how women were treated in that period by a male authority in the household and or society. The narrator enjoyed her alone time because she needed to find herself again to feel appreciated, “I wasn’t alone a bit!” (260). That certain main character is not allowed to be her creative self because it possibly will affect her illness when it could help her. Jane is not allowed to write, leave the room, talk to anyone, etc. because it involves human interaction with others. She wants to be herself but how can she when her husband is constantly on her mind about what he will say even though he is sometimes not physically present, for example, “And I know John would think it absurd” (254). The narrator’s, self-expression is noticed when she cannot fulfill her duties as a mom and wife as expected from society because of her sickness due to not getting the correct medical treatment she needs meaning “Even though we are not told about a specific event that has traumatized the young woman, it is apparent that even her everyday experiences with her husband or within the established set of social norms are traumatizing enough” (Aksehir). This ends up also driving her insane because there is no room for her to be herself and to improve, especially with her husbands need for control. Self-expression is important to Gilman and the narrator because they both wanted to have a voice.

For the story “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman “More recently feminists have argued that the novel is an example of early feminist literature” (Mukhtar). In this story, feminism is a big issue because it portrays how women like Gilman’s situation are walked over. It happens to also shows how woman struggle with the overwhelming male figure in their household. For example, obviously the narrator knows what is best for her because, “Personally, I believe that congenial work, with excitement and change, would do me good” (249) meaning this would be beneficial to help improve her health. So, of course her husband will have to say otherwise, and she will listen to him because during that time period women are to obey their husbands because they know what is right. Women and men will never be equals because these two genders have always had different opportunities and rules then one another. In the story, “The Yellow Wallpaper” has portrayed the hardships a woman will endure due to the male authority figure. A feminist is Charlotte Perkins Gilman and she is the lady in the short story because of her experience with a patriarchy husband and her mental illness.

When the narrator is finally set free, she realized she had been the lady behind the yellow wallpaper and realized it was time to be set free. As the story came to an end, we saw how she moved past her suffering, gained her freedom by standing up for herself, and us audience gained a new perspective on feminism. Because of her newly found self, she was able to overcome the obstacles she was living under even though she is still ill.

Works Cited

  • Aksehir, Mahinur. “Reading ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ as Post-Traumatic writing/‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ Adh Oykunun Travma-Sonrasi Anlati Olarak okunmasi.(Report).” Interactions 17.2 (2008): n. pag. Print.
  • Bittel, Carla. “Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz . Wild Unrest: Charlotte Perkins Gilman and the Making of ‘The Yellow Wall‐Paper.’ New York: Oxford University Press. 2010. Pp. Ix, 251. $24.95.” The American Historical Review 117.1 (2012): 208–209. Web.
  • Mukhtar, Omar. “The Yellow Wallpaper.” BMJ 342.jan26 1 (2011): d428–d428. Web.


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