Yellow Wallpaper Sexism

Improved Essays
Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s story, “The Yellow Wallpaper,” is a tale in which the issues of sexism and mental illness converge so seamlessly that they are difficult to separate from one another. Gilman’s protagonist is a woman who lives in the heyday of the cult of domesticity, which held that a “true” woman’s place was in the home and fully committed to husband and family. Outside work for women was frowned upon, and the story’s narrator is, presumably, a writer (almost certainly meant to reflect Gilman’s own experiences as a female writer of her time). Additionally, the woman has been diagnosed with a “nervous condition,” but it is her physician husband who diagnoses her condition and also prescribes and oversees her treatment. This is significant because, in John, Gilman takes the dismissive doctor who knows best and the dismissive …show more content…
The woman tries several times to establish a sense of freedom and is denied by John at every turn. Soon, she is left with only one opportunity for defiance. Gilman writes, “He says no one but myself can help me out of it, that I must use my will and self-control and not let any silly fancies run away with me” (Gilman 1189). In this statement, the audience can see that John is now attempting to direct his wife’s thoughts. Those, however, are still fully within her control, and she does the opposite of what she is told. The woman projects her life onto an imagined woman stuck in the wallpaper and allows herself to descend into madness. In order to free the woman in the wallpaper – her representation of self – she rips the wallpaper off the wall and becomes the apparition so that she may be free in madness. Freedom and self-actualization are so vital to the woman that, when all other attempts fail, she is willing to release her sanity and give over to what John considers “fancies” in order to retain some form of control over her

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