On Feminism and ‘the Yellow Wallpaper’ by Charlotte Gilman

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On Feminism and ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ by Charlotte Gilman
On the "poet's forum"

Feminism is based on the assumption that women have the same human, political and social rights as men, furthermore, that women should have the same opportunities as men in their personal choices regarding careers, politics and expression. A feminist text states the author’s agenda for women in society as they relate to oppression by a patriarchal power structure and the subsequent formation of social ‘standards’ and ‘protocols’. A feminist text will be written by a woman, and it will point out deficiencies in society regarding equal opportunity, and the reader will typically be aware of this motive. In a work of fiction, the main character, or heroine,
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She wrote the novel Herland to describe a unique society without the problems generated by male ‘deflections’. Herland sets a feminine Utopia where the entire society, lost by freak cataclysm, has no men—and none of their problems or rules.

Knowing that Gilman was a controversial figure for her day, and after reading her other works, it is easy to see more of her feminist allusions in The Yellow Wallpaper. It seems that she has carefully crafted her sentences and metaphors to instill a picture of lurid and creepy male oppression. Her descriptions of the house recall a bygone era; she refers to it as an ‘ancestral hall’ and goes on to give a gothic description of the estate. She falls just short of setting the scene for a ghost story. The reference to old things and the past is a reference to out-dated practices and treatment of women, as she considers the future to hold more equality. By setting the story in this tone, Gilman alludes to practices of oppression that, in her mind, should be relegated to the past.

The surface of the text contains clues about Gilman’s perceptions of the treatment and roles of women. Her main character stumbles over technical words like ‘phosphates’, showing that women were overlooked in education. Moreover, she demonstrates a normalcy of women that are non-technical—they should not have to worry about phosphates, which are in the scientific realm assigned to men. The character Gilman sets up in her first few

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