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The reflection of the 19th century womens role in gilmans the yellow wallpaper

Charlotte Perkins Gilman was a feminist and a creative writer who wrote a compelling short story entitled The Yellow Wallpaper. Originally published in The New England Magazine in 1892 under her maiden name Stetson; feminism, individuality and symbolism are brought to the forefront thus taking the reader through the process of mental breakdown due to societal oppression and a paternalistic culture.

Everything is filtered through her changing consciousness, yet the ambiguity allows one to decipher its many meanings.

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The wallpaper is a text that the protagonist has to interpret; as its symbolism develops she feels repulsed then obsessed. Not physical pain […] mental torment. After Gilman published her semi-autobiographical tale, Dr. Deciding to keep a secret journal, the protagonist starts to fantasise and hide her true thoughts. There is a division in her consciousness; confusing her mind as to what is real and what is fantasy? My brother is also a physician […] he says the same thing.

Her second side is the one who needs to break free and be creative and individual. The misogynistic views in the story force the protagonist to keep her feelings and imagination private — from John, her brother and Dr Mitchell — as they state this is why she is ill.

She knows they are wrong but continually represses her feelings not being able to speak out against the oppression. As the obsession with the wallpaper grows, it becomes the focal point of her haunting story describing it as Dull enough to confuse the eye […] constantly irritate[s] and provoke[s] study, [having] lame uncertain curves [that] commit suicide [and] destroy themselves in unheard of contradictions.

The colour is repellent, almost revolting; a smouldering unclean yellow. The chaotic patterns reflect her state of mind: In the story the house is not her own and feeling imprisoned there she cannot express her creativity.

Dramatization of imprisonment and escape are so all-pervasive in nineteenth- century literature by women […] works [use] houses as primary symbols of female imprisonment Gilbert and Gubar, 2000: Instead, she highlights that women go insane due to the social and economic conditions imposed and their continuous fight against repression and for individuality.

In particular, the weight gain […] was a kind of pseudo pregnancy.

  • The misogynistic views in the story force the protagonist to keep her feelings and imagination private — from John, her brother and Dr Mitchell — as they state this is why she is ill;
  • She feels watched over by the wallpaper, John and his sister Jennie — who revels in the societal oppression; angering her as she Page 6 Lea Weller - 100035841 cannot be a traditional wife and mother and feels strangled and suffocated within her marriage;
  • Maybe if her The Yellow Wallpaper, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman words - 6 pages happen, she felt that she was in control when John fainted at the end; she says "now why should that man have fainted?
  • One specific characteristic of the house that symbolizes not only her potential but also her trapped feeling is the window;
  • Oxford University Press 2013 Neurasthenia.

Paula Treichler 1984 suggests that the wallpaper is an imaginary text the protagonist created as a metaphor for societal pressures. Treichler continues to argue that diagnosed depression in nineteenth- Page 5 Lea Weller - 100035841 century women imposed too many restrictions on the patient. Her journal gives her relief and records her impending breakdown. She focuses on the woman skulking behind the pattern; representing her own inability to air her concerns.

Does the protagonist feel resentment for the child who is the reason for her illness? She feels watched over by the wallpaper, John and his sister Jennie — who revels in the societal oppression; angering her as she Page 6 Lea Weller - 100035841 cannot be a traditional wife and mother and feels strangled and suffocated within her marriage.

The Oppression Of Women Exposed In The Yellow Wallpaper, By Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Part of True Womanhood values is said to be the worship of children; Gilman criticises this idea in her story and feelings towards her child are unexplored. Does this show in the wallpaper?

Were the previous occupants also imprisoned in this room until insanity took over? Did they dig and scratch their way out? Treichler has adopted the shared view that, the skulking woman is a representation of women at the time: A feminist view of this implies that the social and economic Page 7 Lea Weller - 100035841 conditions at the time had the power to drive not just the protagonist, but Gilman, Woolf and many women, to madness.

Treichler continues to argue that the wallpaper represents the protagonists Mind, […] unconscious, [and] the "pattern" of social and economic dependence which reduces women to domestic slavery.

The woman in the wallpaper represents 1 the narrator herself, gone mad, 2 the narrator's unconscious, 3 all women. This patriarchal control shows a striking consequence to non- conforming women in society.

The protagonist shares her suffering with the reader: There was a total disempowerment of women in the nineteenth-century including their lack of rights such as not being allowed out of the house, being subject to domestic slavery and not being allowed to express their creativity.

Through the use of symbolism, Gilman covertly investigates the wallpaper and the insanity of the protagonist when writing her harrowing tale.

Smith argues that The wallpaper, a simple, common object, stands for a profound critique of nineteenth-century society as it represents entrapment oppression, and imprisonment of women [in a] male-dominated society. She is finally released from societal and domestic pressures.

Her insanity released her; no longer oppressed living by societal rules. Gilman argues in Women and Economics 1998 originally published in 1898 that women should be more equal to men in economic, social and political terms. Women were financially dependent on men and feminists believe women should be intellectually, creatively and economically independent of men.

Issues of Theory and Political Practice. Norton and Company, Inc.

The City University of New York. The University of Wisconsin Press. P, 1998 Women and Economics: An Essay on Abjection.

  1. Not physical pain […] mental torment.
  2. It does not take the form of the traditional symbol of security for the domestic activities of a woman, but it does allow for and contain her metamorphosis.
  3. Gilman pushes this to the limit by taking those characteristics closely associated with women and uses them against the narrator, to assist in her own oppression.

Translated By Leon S. The American journal of psychiatry. Oxford University Press 2013 Neurasthenia. P a g e 11 Lea Weller - 100035841 Thomas, Deborah. Florida Gulf Coast University.

The Rest Cure and Dr.