Feminism In Kate Chopin's 'The Yellow Wallpaper'

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The subject of feminism has evolved into various complex theories. In addition, feminism has also been a heavily debated issue that has been around for numerous years. The argument of feminism is that women are, and always have been throughout history, treated differently than men by society. Therefore, women are being stripped down of opportunities to their benefit economically, socially, politically, and culturally. Since there are multiple theories of feminism, Donald Hall’s definition of cultural feminism, from his “Feminist Analysis” of Literary and Cultural Theory, will be the lens to analyze and explore the cultural aspects of the texts from Kate Chopin’s novel The Awakening, Charlotte Gilman’s short story ”The Yellow Wallpaper,” Kate …show more content…
Her husband, a physician, denies the severity of her illness, “John does not know how much I really suffer. He knows there is no reason to suffer, and that satisfies him” (Gilman 769). Given the background information that this was during the early nineteenth century, people did not know the causes of these illnesses, nor did they know how to treat it. However, the fact that her husband is encouraging her sickness to grow worse instead of being sympathetic and comforting is shocking. Being unable to truly tell anyone how she feels, “I did write for a while in spite of them; but it does exhaust me a good deal-having to be so sly about it, or else meet with heavy opposition” (Gilman 768). In secret, she wrote in a journal because she needed to let it all out, she needed a listening ear that wouldn’t judge or emotional state of mind. No attention is there for her when she really needs it, even her husband shuts her out. The woman reveals something strange about the yellow wallpaper of the room that she’s been staying in for recovery, “The faint figure behind seemed to shake the pattern, just as if she wanted to get out” (Gilman 773). This “faint figure” represents the woman. No matter how hard the figure tries to get out, no one will notice. Similarly to the woman’s situation, no matter how much she begs for …show more content…
Due to being a single mother, working multiple jobs, and suffering illnesses, her ability to take care of Emily was very limited. Therefore, the mother blames herself for Emily’s suffering and strange behavior. The mother recalls that, “There were years she did not want me to touch her. She kept too much in herself, her life was such she had to keep too much in herself.” (Olsen). Therefore, Emily grew up hating her mother most of her life because she was never there for her. This was not the mother’s fault, however, it was just unfortunate, given the mother’s situation. Anyhow, the mother says, “Let her be. Only help her to know-help make it so there is a cause for her to know-that she is more than this dress on the ironing board, helpless before the iron” (Olsen). This quote means that the mother will let Emily be angry, be unforgiving at her mother. All those years thrown away, the mother can’t do anything about it now. If anything, the mother is glad for her daughter. Glad because Emily will never have to go through what she did; Emily has a chance to live her life happily, express herself, and do what her mother could not. Society would expect her mother to abandon Emily but she did not, she did not allow her daughter to become a victim of patriarchal society. A society where they do not know the true value and importance of a

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