19th Century American Women

Improved Essays
Despite the economic and social growth of women within the society of the 19th century, the male figure still reigned above all as it were in the 17th and 18th century prior. This was the era of the feminist Charlotte Perkins Gilman, a time when once married the wife became the husband’s property and catered to his every need, maintained the home and the children. Men had the majority of the economic power, which women lacked and with that men made all the rules. Men in society held important posts such as judges, doctors, political positions that can all impact lives for better or worse. Women today still carry a stigma in pursuing and acquiring such positions. Wives had become vulnerable and their lives could be totally controlled by their …show more content…
Gilman and Stetson had a daughter one year within their marriage which pushed Gilman into postpartum depression. With Weir Mitchell being a very prominent neurologist in that era, Gilman took guidance from the doctor and followed his rigorous guidelines/procedures. According to Les Stone “Gilman undertook a cure consisting largely of bed rest and minimal intellectual stimulation. Not surprisingly, the cure, far from enabling Gilman to recover her emotional equilibrium, further exacerbated her instability.” Eventually Gilman soon came to the realization that the Doctors prescribed procedures were doing her more harm than good and ended her rest cure. Les Stone also indicated that Gilman separated from her husband later on. She was of the view that he contributed to her illness of lasting depression due to their marriage of stifling domesticity (para …show more content…
In her husbands care the wife received the same treatment she would have been prescribed by Dr. Weir Mitchell, whom she was reluctant to get treatment from. This is a doctor known to the writer where “hysterical” (6) women are admitted.
Weir Mitchell ‘Rest Cure’ was administered mainly to women. In “The Yellow Wallpaper” the husband applied the procedures of Weir Mitchell to his wife, which gives a sense of his power and role in the marriage. She was forbidden to write; “There comes John, and I must put this away, --he hates to have me write a word” (7), she was kept in a nursery, confined to a room with an immovable bed (10), on scheduled prescription (7) and prevented from interacting with her child.
The treatment drove her to depression, which eventually pushed her to insanity. Being in a confined space the narrator became obsessed with what she was exposed to, but the controlling husband thinks the place is doing her good (8). The writers first hand experience of the ‘Rest Cure’ where she was once a writer was told to restrain from writing, which nearly resulted in insanity. The narrators husband, however did believe her; he does not acknowledge her opinion in anything “John laughs at me, of course, but one expects that in marriage” (6). The narrator eventually began to fear her husband who is also her

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