What Is The Repression Of Women In If I Were A Man By Charlotte Perkins Gilman

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In Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “If I Were a Man,” a woman, Mollie Mathewson, imagines what it would be like if she were a man for a day and subsequently ends up in her husband’s body. Gilman’s “The Yellow Wall-Paper” follows the journal of a woman who is going through a psychological breakdown. These seem like different plots, however, they share a common theme of the repression of women by men.
In Gilman’s “If I Were a Man,” Mollie Mathewson is stereotyped as a “true woman” (484). Mollie is unhappy as a domestic housewife, unable to do as she pleases, and wants to live the life of a man. Suddenly her wish comes true and she embodies her husband, Gerald. As Gerald, Mollie finds she is “the right size” and she has more “freedom” (“If I Were a
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Mollie states “women are pretty much people”, which implies she thinks most men don’t consider women as people, because they don’t hold jobs or make their own living (“If I Were a Man” 488). She goes on to say women are pressured to wear the outlandish clothes men keep creating, because when they wear practical clothing and step outside the status quo, men don’t give them a second glance (“If I Were a Man” 488). Mollie touches on the fact that, as men, they don’t want their pride getting hurt and, as a result, they don’t let women work for in fear that they could do a better job or do it faster. Mollie finishes her speech by saying women are not to blame for the hardships men endure, but men have “had the lion’s share of keeping” the “evil” going since the time of “Mother Eve” (“If I Were a Man” 488). The resolution of “If I Were a Man” reveals men know they are repressing women from the working world and to the men as long as it goes unspoken and no one acknowledges this the problem doesn’t exist. Mollie had to be in Gerald’s body to freely express her opinions because as a woman she wouldn’t have been given the light of day amongst the men in society. For men, women are “whimsical and charming” with no place in the business world (“If I Were a Man” …show more content…
The narrator is sick, yet John, “a physician” believes she is exaggerating the severity of her illness (“The Yellow Wall-Paper” 489). John’s recommendation of treatment for his wife is to “not work” (“The Yellow Wall-Paper” 489). The narrator questions her husband’s strategy, but “feels basely ungrateful” when she doesn’t appreciate the care he has for her even if she feels what he prescribes may not be the best for her (“The Yellow Wall-Paper” 490). The narrator feels she needs to write and keeps a secret journal for John “hates to have [her] write a word” (“The Yellow Wall-Paper” 490). This ultimately represses her creativity and self-expression. To distract herself from thinking about her sickness, the narrator turns to the wallpaper in the room, which “pronounces enough to constantly irritate and provoke study”, foreshadowing an obsession with the wallpaper. In the first entry of the narrator’s journal she continues to doubt her husband’s treatment. Being isolated with no one to talk to and nothing to do does not lessen her anxiety, in fact, it only feeds into it. The narrator personifies the wallpaper using a simile comparing the pattern to “a broken neck and two bulbous eyes” (“The Yellow Wall-Paper” 492). She also thinks she’s able to see “a formless sort of figure, that seems to skulk about behind” the “front design”

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