The Yellow Wallpaper: Women's Oppression

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Rights are constitutional or a decent concept of freedom. Rights allow people to live/ speak freely without discrimination and dictatorship over the choices they make. But in the 1800s, women had little say in how to live their own lives. Women were seen as dependents of men and without any power, they were left with the burden of the responsibility of raising children and domestic duties. They were often thought of as praise that intensifies the rank of her husband by making him come out as a trustworthy family man to his community. With this in mind, many women such as female novelists have taken significant action in standing up for women’s rights by began to write about gender roles, discrimination with a critical approach to a government-controlled by men. The yellow wallpaper, a short story by American writer Charlotte Perking Gilman is one illustration of feminist social criticism in 1892. In the short story, the narrator is introduced as a woman, forbidden to do what she wants, instead is forced by her husband John to ease unaccompanied in a room to cure her of her postpartum depression. The unbalanced relationship between the narrator and her husband John is one of the larger gender inequality in society. Paired with her postpartum depression, she contrasts practical, rationalistic manner with her own imaginative, sensitive ways.

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Charlotte Perkins Gilman used her illness to create an inspirational ideal chronicle that particularly has broad implications for women. The narrator begins by describing the house that she and John have rented for the summer. She discloses it in romantic terms as an upper-class mansion or even a haunted house such as, “ the rings and things” in the bedroom walls, with its strange, formless pattern, and describes it as revolting. She also wonders how they were able to find it, and why the house had been empty for so long. Her feeling that there is something mysterious about the situation prevails into a dialog of her disease. Even though the narrator does not believe that she is actually ill, her husband John is convinced that she is suffering from “neurasthenia” and prescribes the “rest cure” treatment. She is grounded to bed rest in a former nursery room and she is barred from working or writing. However, she feels that activity, freedom, and interesting work could help her condition. “ I don’t know why I should write this. I don’t want to. I don’t feel able to. And I know John would think it absurd. But I must say what I feel and think in some way- it is such a relief!” (7). She becomes good at hiding her journal and hiding her true thoughts from john. In accusing John’s patronizing treatment of his wife, the narrator impeaches the system as thorough, in which many women were cornered behind damaging social definitions of the female. He discards her opinions about everything that she had to say to him about the house and illness. While he belittles her imaginative instinct. He speaks of her as he would a child, calling her his “little girl,” “little goose,” also saying of her “bless her little heart.” He overrides her judgments on the best course of treatment of herself as he would on any issue, making her live in a house she does not like, in a room, she feels hostility toward, and in an isolated environment which makes her unhappy and no companionship. Meanwhile, this repulsive yellow paper becomes a critical force throughout the story, as she grows obsessed with its pattern. Her mind starts playing tricks on her because she’s not really sleeping or eating. “There is a recurrent spot where the pattern lolls like a broken neck and two bulbous eyes stare at you upside down” ( 4). She is certain that the wallpaper consists of an evil-intentioned force that has been intimidating the entire house. Nonetheless, she attempts to argue with her husband that they should leave the house, but she mentions that John is worried about her becoming fixated on it, and he has even refused to repaint it when what is required is self-control.

Moreover, She attempts to fight as opposed to the thriving drowsiness that controls her, she still shows signs of disagreeing feelings throughout John’s treatment of her. “Dear John! He loves me very dearly and hates to have me sick. I tried to have a real earnest reasonable talk with him the other day…. And I did not make out a very good case for myself, for I was crying before I had finished” (7). While one part of her may think John wrong, on the other hand, another part that has personalized the contrary explanations of womanhood, figures that since he is the man, the doctor, and consequently the authority, then he may be right. They withhold unbalanced viewpoints in relationships and society. Therefore, she lacks the bravery and the self-confidence to propound her will over his, even though she recognizes that his treatment is damaging her. In fact, she still feels tired, lazy, cries when she is alone, she can barely have enough energy to write in her secret journal. In addition, the narrator being able to use her imagination without difficulty does alter her mood. “John is so pleased to see me improve… I had no intention of telling him it was because of the wallpaper”(10). She states that she feels like she’s improving a lot, which John and his sister Jennie have recognized, but what they do not know is that it is due to the wallpaper. Above all, the author’s way of looking at how men/society perspective women who are uncontrolled and enable themselves to think and accomplish as they choose.

As more days pass, she happens to notice that the obvious “yellow smell” of the wallpaper has spread over the house, following her even when she’s walking in the hallway or the room. The narrator begins to fantasize, even more, believes that she has seen the woman creeping in a cautious or secretive way outside in the sunlight, the narrator determines to shrug off the wallpaper before she vacays the house in two days. Further, the narrator indicates that she too creeps around at times. She suspects that John and his sister Jennie are mindful of her obsession and she finds the solution which is to destroy the paper once and for all, detaching much of it throughout the night. The following day, she manages to be by herself and goes through wild behavior such as biting and tearing at the paper to free the trapped woman to which she sees in distress from inside the pattern. As a result, she is persuaded that there are many creeping women around and that she herself has come out of the wallpaper and that she herself is the trapped woman. She creeps continuously on every side of the room, daubing the wallpaper as she goes. Ultimately, When John breaks into the locked room and sees the full horror of the situation, he faints in the doorway. An illustration could be that the author wants to show how the roles have switched between the narrator and her husband john. She didn’t have to play the social norms anymore, she got control. It is also a way of showing that the woman is in charge and the man is completely dejected. Just as the women's rights movements, how they fight to be noticed, other than doing domestic duties, they wanted gender equality.

In conclusion, the yellow wallpaper shows many signs of being a gender inequality back in the 1800s, where women were not viewed as capable of leading, being independent, or having authority over men. Where feminist social criticism has been growing and Charlotte Perkins Gilman and other authors like her played a huge role in the debate on male and female gender roles and woman’s rights.

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