Women In Charlotte Perkins Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper

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Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” is a commentary on the empowerment of women. Beaten down by a society that is ruled by men, the narrator decides that she has had enough and takes matters into her own hands. During the time the story was written, woman struggled to find a sense of individuality. They spent their lives being suppressed and could do little about it. The narrator challenges this suppression and evolves into a woman who will not be dominated by men. In this story, Gilman uses symbols to shed a light on the struggles that women have had to endure in their lives.
The narrator’s husband, John, symbolizes the patriarchal system that women were forced to conform to during Gilman’s time. Their relationship depicts
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She hates the wallpaper at first but becomes more intrigued with it when she sees a woman trapped within its design. The narrator describes this woman by saying “And she is all the time trying to climb through. But nobody could climb through that pattern—it strangles so,” (Gilman, par. 192). She sympathizes with this image as she herself feels trapped and unable to escape her situation. Mary Ellen Snodgrass comments on the narrator’s realization, writing, “Before her complete loss of control, the viewer witnesses a prophecy—the shape of an incarcerated woman in the decor, a doppelgänger image of herself as a powerless, suppressed victim of patriarchy reduced to two dimensions and pasted to the wall,” (Snodgrass). In an attempt to free the woman and herself, the narrator tears away at the wallpaper in the final moments of the story. This is the narrator’s way of liberating herself from what society expects from her as a woman. In doing so, she knows that she must completely detach from herself. Quawas writes, “Upon recognition of the wallpaper woman, who in this story clearly represents not only the narrator's own divided self but all women who are bound and inhibited by a society that insists that women are childlike and incapable of self-actualization, the narrator begins a descent into the vicarious experience of madness through a virtually

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