Gender Inequality In The Yellow Wallpaper

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Charlotte Perkins Gilman was an advocate for women, who believed that they should be on the same level as men economically, socially, and politically. This was very forward thinking for the late 1800s to early 1900s. Gilman often used her literary work to make a statement about her opinions and her desire for gender equality. In her short story “The Yellow Wallpaper”, the narrator and her husband rent a summer house and she spends most of her time in a room upstairs with barred windows and horrid wallpaper. The narrator is suffering from post-partum depression, which her husband calls temporary nervous depression, and is meant to be resting to cure it. She is taunted by the wallpaper in this room so much so that it drives her to insanity. …show more content…
The woman in the wallpaper is held down by the literal pattern that covers her, while the narrator is held down by the pattern of oppression women faced during this time. Women were all supposed to get minimal education, get married, have children, and keep the house. Every generation of women was raised to follow that exact cycle, and it became almost unbreakable. The narrator feels trapped in this cycle which is mirrored in the pattern. She says “And she is all the time trying to climb through. But nobody could climb through that pattern--it strangles so” She adds that this patter is restricting and strangles those who are trapped in it, so that there is no possible way to escape. That is how women felt during this time given the circumstances they were forced to live in. The narrator is caught in the pattern that women were expected to follow. The reader can also notice that the reason she is resting is to cure her postpartum depression, something only found in women, that all of the male doctors dismiss. Instead they say she just needs to rest, which was a common solution for the temporary nervous depression they say she is suffering from. The men in this work, including her husband, believe that she is simply taxed from doing too much thinking. That suggests that women were too weak to withstand the taxing burden of thought. The narrator pays no mind to that because she must do as her husband says. She goes on observing the wallpaper and wonders about the other creeping women in it and “if they came out of the wallpaper as [she] did. (390) Which suggests that she believes she crawled out of the wallpaper. By the end of the story the narrator fully believes that the woman trapped in the wallpaper is her. She scratches all of the wallpaper off of the walls to free her and says that she

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