The Yellow Wallpaper: The Negative Effects Of Forcing Roles On Women

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Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper”: The Negative Effects of Forcing roles on Women During the Nineteenth-Century

Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” is about a woman living in the nineteenth century who has just had a baby boy and suffers from postpartum depression. She is married to a man who is also her doctor. He says that her depression isn’t real and that she is just thinking too much. He insists that she stay inside and do nothing at all. He forbids her from reading, writing, and thinking. They go on vacation in a colonial mansion with their son and the narrator’s sister in law. While on vacation the narrator is told to stay in her room and rest for most of the time. She stays in a room with
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Women were expected to cook, clean, have babies, and take care of the home. They were not allowed to think, be well educated or question their husbands. “Her contradictions however are unheard. She can only counter Johns dictums literally by refusing to speak, or metaphorically, by revealing the blankness behind the wallpaper” (Ford). The narrator is different from the typical woman at this time and she resents the men for their pressures put on her. She is clearly educated and curious and she is oppressed because of her fate of being born a woman. Her husband and her brother who are both doctors disregard her thoughts and her worries. The men all around her are convincing her that she is crazy and irrational so she is becoming insane. She feels unsafe to express her worries because of their threats and judgements, “Because she does not feel free to speak truthfully ‘to a living soul’ she confides to a journal -- Dead paper-- instead. The only safe language is dead language. But even the journal is not altogether safe” (Treichler). This quote illustrates the narrator 's fear of men and the tight leash society has her and other women on during this time …show more content…
The woman inside of the wallpaper symbolizes the narrator 's inner thoughts and insane feelings portrayed as a trapped, hopeless woman. This is because this is how she feels in society, which reflects how many other women felt during this time period as well. The bars on the windows also symbolize entrapment and imprisonment of the narrator and other women. The narrator is imprisoned by the role society has placed on her and she wants freedom and equality. The lack of her freedom results in her mental and physical downfall because her intelligence is far beyond the other women in the story who have accepted their fate in the world and settled. Mary and Jeannie represent women who are considered perfect during this time period because they do as they are told and they take care of the children and the men. But some women think outside the box, like the narrator but are struggling to grasp onto their freedom. When the narrator tore down the wallpaper in the end it was symbolically breaking out of hell. “Now why should that man have fainted? But he did, and right across my path by the wall, so that i had to creep over him every time” (Gilman 308). When she was creeping and crawled over her husband after he fainted Gilman gives society the taste of reality that women can be superior and

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