The Yellow Wallpaper Themes

He demands domestic routine, as no action can be taken without his prior authorization. Furthermore, there is a psychological mind-twisting goal revolving around John actions. He is cautious to talk to his wife in a careful and loving manner as distracting her from his true intentions. He justifies his tyrannical control over his wife by stating repeatedly that he only wants what’s best for her.

Moreover, the setting in “The Yellow Wallpaper” plays an essential aspect in the submission of the narrator’s state of mind.

Wilson makes a detailed fact evident; at first glance, the place in which the characters are residing appears to be tranquil and soothing. In actuality this couldn’t be further from the truth, this is a place of confinement. In fact, the new mother expresses satisfaction in observing the land that surrounds them. The house resides in an isolated location away from other neighbors and society. Similarly, Korb comments the new mother is restricted in more than one-way.

Aside from being trapped in her home and in her mind, she is unable to interact with the world around her. Another aspect to consider is the abnormal characteristics such as a secured bed to the floor, and the bars on the baby’s room window; this demonstrates a state of imprisonment. The setting of the short story reinforces the mysterious feelings and attitudes expressed by the narrator.

Similarly, the symbolism of the yellow wallpaper delivers a comparable account of the mental status in which the narrator found herself. The most mentioned and described symbolism is the actual wallpaper. Johnson positions, the protagonist initially views the wallpaper as hideous and unappealing. As time passes by the new mother, alter her perspective and starts to visualize the wallpaper as something she must interpret. The restricted-isolated woman finds comfort as well as entertainment in tracing around the rips and damages encompassing the wallpaper. Because of her confinement and little to no mental stimulation, the narrator begins to imagine a woman trapped in the midst of the wallpaper. Wilson elaborates life like characteristics begin to be associated with the wallpaper. Smells, eyes, and speech are all human like features that begin to become relevant to the isolated women. The wallpaper began to take on the restricting type of life the narrator herself was living.

Correspondingly, a gothic like theme is uncovered in the midst of reading “The Yellow Wallpaper.” It contributes to the mental breakdown the narrator experiences. First Wilson acknowledges the house the family inhabits is three miles away from the closest city. This foreshadowing detail sets the tone of the story as the house represents loneliness and sadness. Likewise, many psychological influences presented in the text allude to the realism of gothic fiction. For example, the narrators journeys through a difficult nervous breakdown. Horror is apparent when she begins to visualize a woman trapped inside the wallpaper. Suspense is evident as she expresses her suspicions towards John and Jenny and fears they might figure out what’s underneath the wallpaper. A supernatural theme is offered, one causing a mix of emotions. Korb references in this time in history the narrator’s behavior was speculated to be abnormal conduct and unforgiving. Johnson adds the gothic theme is further enhanced by the narrator through a subject of confinement and rebellion, one that is uncommon for women of this time.

After analyzing different topics in “The Yellow Wallpaper” it is evident the characters surrounding the narrator aided in her creating a second self in order to satisfy her emptiness and desire to regain control of her life. Gilman depicts this short story from experiences that she personally endured. Women were thought to be weak and sensitive. On the other hand man were thought to be all knowing and wise.

“The Yellow Wallpaper” Essay

“The Yellow Wallpaper” is a chilling tale of a woman forced to insanity, yet her mental state is a double edged sword. What brings her down is, in the end, her savior. The doctors in the narrator’s life give her the worst advice possible for the outcome they desire. She is forced to do nothing, and instead of pulling her back to normality, the dreariness pushes her further and further away. Left with nothing to occupy her mind, her mind occupies itself.

In the beginning of the story, the woman is quite lucid in the usual sense. Due to a lack of understanding of depression, she is forced to hide the things she loves. She focuses her attention on all she has left, her mental state. However, since she is told that there is nothing wrong she does not analyze it directly, but instead watches her life play out in the metaphor created by the horrid yellow wallpaper. As the story progresses, you watch as the lady loses her touch with reality, focusing more and more on the yellow wallpaper.

She pays attention every inch of it, noticing the ever watching eyes and the twists that keep what she believes to be a creeping woman trapped behind. She stops complaining of boredom, and instead analyses the paper most intently. I believe when the narrator begins to see the creeping, humiliated woman outside is the beginning of her liberation. It shows that the woman is free, at least part of the time. This is also around the time when the narrator notices the streak running around the room. While this could of been there before, one would think she would of noticed it previously. This indicates she created it herself, in her moments of freedom. During this part of the story she was only liberated part of the time though, as John was still there to watch her at night. The creeping woman she sees also hides herself when someone is coming. As the moon peeks through the windows, the narrator watches the woman in the wallpaper. She is no longer creeping and hiding, as the narrator is forced to also do by day, but shaking the “bars” of her prison, meanwhile the narrator is wishing John would take another room so that she could escape him. By the end of the story, she has completely forgotten about her wishes to have some kind of entertainment. As her husband is gone and she is able to trick Jennie into leaving her alone, the narrator manages to free the woman behind the wallpaper from it’s entangling grasp. Thus, she also frees herself from the controlling grasp of her husband. She is free to do as she pleases, which at the moment is creep around the room in the most unusual fashion. However, she seems to really be enjoying herself. Not only that, but she doesn’t even want to leave her room. When John returns, he sees that he is no longer in control what so ever, and faints. While he is kind of cumbersome and in the way, as the narrator now has to crawl over him to complete her circuit, this shows how completely she has triumphed. Society may find her actions disconcerting, but it is the very same society that pushed her away into isolation in the first place. Crawling over her husband’s inert body merely emphasizes the point that she has finally completely overcome him. She finally get’s her way.

The Narrator in The Yellow Wallpaper

In “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, the narrator conveys an eccentric tone when she describes her every detail in a seemingly frantic way which indicates her volatile mental state. The use of a journal entry and symbolization of her surroundings is perfectly blended to describe the way society and her husband constrict her mentally and allows her obsession with the wallpaper to flourish. The symbolization of her environment can be seen as a metaphor for a trapped mind that cannot escape the adversity society has placed it in and shows how we as a society always seem to turn a blind eye to.

The narrator, we find out is a woman, is told by her physician husband to restrain herself to treat her nervous condition. She agrees, believing the man who she sees as a point of authority and final say. The repression of thought and action can be seen as a symbolic statement of the repression of women in society.

Her fondness of John can be seen through the journal entries, always starting with the expression “Dear John” and “He loves me very dearly, ” as she believes she is acting within the norms to appease John in anyway possible.The yellow wallpaper represents and symbolizes (not to be cliche) her free thought and imagination to have a heart-to-heart with the wallpaper and her journal, in spite of John’s strong dismissal of the yellow wallpaper as nothing but material.

Symbolism of the Setting of “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Symbolism In The Gothic Setting of “The Yellow Wallpaper” Gothic literature is incredibly distinct. There is a sort of formula involved with writing in the Gothic style, and one of the most important aspects of this is the setting, which can include anything from the architecture of the buildings to the color of the leaves on the trees. The setting of a story is a vital element, as it would seem to be that the most effective way of drawing someone into the story would be allowing them to envision it, and it’s much easier to envision something once it has been described.

The setting can also be used as a source of symbolism, which is very apparent in “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. As the story is written in journal entries, the symbolism is not as easily stated as it can be in third-person, but is included through the description of the setting. “The Yellow Wallpaper” is a prime example of the Gothic setting and the symbolism it can have.

Gilman makes the style of her story very clear from right from the first page. The building the narrator describes is a “colonial mansion… a haunted house” (Gilman 83), which is very typical of Gothic literature. Gothic buildings tend to be castles and are often old, decrepit, or haunted. This house is “an Americanized, domesticated format of the physically charged contested castle” (Carol Davison). The grand colonial mansion on a large block of land resembles a more modern castle, which provides the feeling that the house is looming, stuffy, and, for lack of a better term, creepy. Though the narrator does say that the house is not actually haunted, she does state that “there is something strange about the house” (Gilman 84). This lets the reader know that this story will have strange elements to it, which is normal of Gothic literature.

The protagonist doesn’t walk about the house too much, as she stays in solitude in her room for most of the story, but when she does, “[her] exploration, often at night, of the apparently haunted Castle’s maze-like interior involves confrontation with mysteries whose ultimate unravelling signifies a self-discovery” (Carol Davison). As she becomes less and less imprisoned in the house and more involved with the wallpaper, she finds a sense of freedom. The setting is most clearly shown to be that of Gothic literature through the furniture in the house that the protagonist is staying in. Many things about the room that the protagonist is staying in represent imprisonment , which is a common theme in Gothic literature. Gilman states that “the windows are barred” (84), which immediately gives the reader an idea of not being able to escape. The bed in the room “is nailed down” (Gilman 88), which is also apart of the idea of prison.

The unmovable bed foreshadows the solitude of the protagonist, as she becomes consumed by the wallpaper and does not leave the bedroom. Each item of furniture in the room is used to symbolize something, as “the bars on the window suggest the trapped nature of female gender roles. The window symbolizes freedom” (Conrad Shumaker). Along with this, the rooms is described to have “rings and things in the walls” (Gilman 84). Though there are a few different reasons why there would be rings, one of them could be that the room used to be a sort of prison or torture chamber, which would mean the rings were used for chains of sorts. This explanation would fit in with the idea that the room that the protagonist occupies becomes a prison for her. Along with the theme of imprisonment, much of the setting and it’s description symbolizes the isolation that the protagonist faces. When stating the location of the house, it is described as “quite alone… quite three miles from the village” (Gilman 83). This is how isolation is first introduced, and it is quite literal. Much of this theme of imprisonment is included to represent female oppression.

Of course, the biggest element of the setting of “The Yellow Wallpaper” is, in fact, the yellow wallpaper. The narrator states that she “never saw a worse paper in [her] life” (Gilman 84). The in-depth description of the paper tells the reader how horrible it is to the protagonist. Her way of describing it makes it almost more eerie than ugly, as she says “when you follow the lame uncertain curves for a little distance they suddenly commit suicide” (Gilman 85). The protagonist of this story is sick, most likely mentally ill, but her husband, who is also her doctor, refuses to believe that the sickness is anything but physical. This little nod in the wording toward a mental illness ties the wallpaper into her sickness. K.V. Rama Rao observes that her description is “almost like a metaphysical conceit obliquely suggestive of the condition of women.

These are not words normally used to describe wallpaper.” The paper is clearly symbolic of many different things. It is one of the many things that leads back to Gilman’s stance as a feminist. In the story, “the narrator represents male fears about femininity and female sexuality. [Female sexuality is] represented by the color yellow and the smell of the wallpaper” (Mary Jacobus). As the story continues, the paper “becomes a phantasmagoria screen onto which is projected her sense of her situation” (Carol Davison). The protagonist thinks of it as a living being, as it has an effect on her and “looks at [her] as if it knew what a vicious influence it had” (Gilman 86). The protagonist also begins to see a person in the wallpaper, and she is “quite sure it is a woman” (Gilam 92). The paper takes over her life, as does the woman she sees in the paper.

This obsession is because of her being isolated in the bedroom, which ties back to the entire room being a prison for the narrator. In further description of the paper, it is described that “at night in any kind of light…it becomes bars…and the woman behind it is as plain as can be” (Gilman 92). As we can see, the paper is being used to symbolize imprisonment, and “these words are a clear statement of the author about women – the woman is behind the bars built by society!” (Rama). The author makes a clever move in her descriptions by touching on a few different topics in her symbolism. Not only does she include the theme of imprisonment to show the effects of isolation on mental patients, but also to suggest the importance of gender equality, as women are imprisoned by the roles society places them into.

Works Cited
Rao, K. V. Rama. “The Yellow Wallpaper — A Dynamic Symbol: A Study Of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Story.” Poetcrit 19.1 (2006): 38-44. Literary Reference Center Plus. Web. 10 Apr. 2014.

Wiedemann, Barbara. “The Yellow Wallpaper.” Short Fiction: A Critical Companion (1997): 64-72. Literary Reference Center Plus. Web. 10 Apr. 2014.

Davison, Carol Margaret. “Haunted House/Haunted Heroine: Female Gothic Closets In “The Yellow Wallpaper.” Women’s Studies 33.1 (2004): 47-75. Literary Reference Center Plus. Web. 10 Apr. 2014.

Gilman, Charlotte P. “The Yellow Wallpaper.” Literature: A Pocket Anthology. Boston: Longman, 2012. 82-97. Print.

The Yellow Wallpaper’ by Charlotte Perkins Gillman Analysis

Hypothesis: Gillman uses the yellow wallpaper to expose oppression against women living in patriarchal society in the 19th Century.

After studying and interpreting Charlotte Perkins Gillman’s short story ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’, I am able to make the hypothesis that Gillman uses the yellow wallpaper to expose oppression against women living in patriarchal society in the 19th Century. The short story is written based on Gillman’s own life when she underwent “nervous prostration” after the birth of her daughter. Gillman allows her readers to understand the perspective of a female in the 19th century and how her role in society resulted in insanity.

Feminist literacy critics Ed. Janet Witalec “The Yellow Wallpaper” (1) and Rena Korb, “An overview of ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’” (2) both support my hypothesis. They analyze the behaviour and environment of the narrator in relation to this period of time. This woman who is suffering from nervous depression narrates “The Yellow Wallpaper”.

She is married to a doctor, who controls her life.

Through patronising and bombarding her with ideas that she must feel, her husband demands that she must not write. He claims her creative activities will only make her more “nervous” and “crazy”, although the narrator found great joy in writing. She keeps a secret journal of which she describes the yellow wallpaper and the environment that she lives in. Her journal gives the readers an insight to her perspective on life as an oppressed woman in the 19th Century. Witalec and Korb use a feminist lens to express their opinions on the short story, which support my hypothesis.

Ed. Janet Witalec discusses the patriarchal pressures on women in the 19th Century, which caused obstacles for the entire female gender. Witalec states that in ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ “critics acknowledge the story as a feminist text written in protest of the negligent treatment of women by a patriarchal society” (1) Witalec supports the hypothesis that the yellow wallpaper exposed oppression against women who lived in the 19th Century society. She acknowledges that males were the most dominant in society and therefore created boundaries and rules for females, even those who were of the higher class. Witalec explains that the confinement of the narrator in the room resembles the narrator’s position in society during the 19th Century in reference to gender inequality.

She states, “The narrator’s confinement to her home and her feelings of being dominated and victimized by those around her, particularly her husband, is an indication of the many domestic limitations that society places upon women.” (1) This supports my hypothesis from a different perspective. Witalec explains that not only the wallpaper resembles the oppression against women but also her husband controls her both physically and mentally, instructing her with how she should feel. Her husband located her in the room upstairs surrounded by the “revolting”, “smouldering” yellow wallpaper, when the narrator complains about the paper her husband (John) says “this place is doing you good”. The narrator was majorly impacted by the patriarchal pressures of the 19th Century, which resulted in her having no freedom. She was constantly told what to do, how to feel and what was best for her without her making any decisions for herself.

I agree with the statement Witalec makes, as it is evidential in the primary text when the narrator explains “John says if I don’t pick up faster he shall send me to Weir Mitchell in the fall.” “he said I wasn’t able to go”, “I am a doctor dear, I know”, “you will never for one instant let that idea enter your mind!”. We observe that the narrator is restrained and trapped amongst her husband’s demands; she is powerless in comparison to him. Witalec states “her (the narrator’s) mental state is worsened by her husband’s medical opinion that she confine herself to the house.”(1) I agree with Witalec’s statement, as although John is a qualified doctor and therefore believes he is right, it strongly appears that his medical opinion is threatening his wife’s sanity. Their marriage is a representation of 19th Century inequality and shows the readers their “ordinary” relationship was plagued by control of mind and body through a dominant male attitude.

Witalec also explains, “The yellow wallpaper itself becomes a symbol of this oppression to a woman who feels trapped in her roles as wife and mother” (1) Witalec is referring to the distress that the wallpaper has caused the narrator’s mind. The narrator says “This paper looks to me as if it knew what a vicious influence it had!” by describing the wallpaper, we can relate her thoughts to the society she lives in as the people in the 19th Century know that the inequality present is vicious and unfair yet everyday it still impacted women’s lives on a negative basis. I agree with what Witalec is stating, it is obvious that the narrator is unhappy with her position in society and feels dominated and trapped. I believe that the yellow wallpaper is unquestionably used to expose the oppression against women in the 19th Century society, as well as the contribution from the marriage that the narrator is involved in. It is clear that there was a vast difference between the value of male and female opinions and decisions.

The narrator is imprisoned in the patriarchal society and uses the yellow wallpaper to express her emotions towards the society she is trapped in. Women nowadays are more powerful in society due to ways in which they have changed their roles. Such as not being viewed as someone’s wife and mother. Whose functions are to cook, clean and nurture their family. Today women in the 21st century are educated therefore they themselves have become confident in their own choices without the male voice. I am glad to live in this century, as it would have been dreadful to feel powerless and vindicated just because of my gender.

Rena Korb believes that ‘The Yellow Wallpaper” ‘touches on many issues relevant to women of the nineteenth century, most particularly that of the roles they are allowed to play.” (2) I partially agree with Korb’s statement as the story does discuss the roles that women were ‘allowed’ to play in the 19th Century. I also believe that a major purpose of the story was to show women who are dominated by the male gender, that there is successful ways of taking control of life as an individual (i.e.- self expression). This is symbolically shown in the story when the narrator tears the wallpaper down- becoming free. Korb explains that the narrator develops a relationship with the yellow wallpaper, this is because “the narrator has no physical or spiritual escape from her husband, she must seek relief elsewhere: in the yellow wallpaper” (2).

This outlines the lack of love in their marriage; nowadays women desire the companionship of another person- male or female. When the narrator first views the wallpaper she instantly despises of it- “I never saw a worse paper in my life”. As her time in the room progresses she becomes fonder of the wallpaper and takes extended amount of time to analyse the patterns “I never saw so much expression in an inanimate thing before,”. Korb discusses “her (the narrator’s) initial discomfort decreases as she sees mirrored in the wallpaper her own existence” (2) I agree with Korb’s statement as when the narrator thoroughly examines the shapes and designs within the wallpaper she discovers there are two domineering patterns. The front pattern is concealed with bars resembling an imprisonment sense, and in the back pattern there is a female figure trying to escape, this is evident from the primary text- “The faint figure behind seemed to shake the pattern, just as if she wanted to get out”.

This quote allows the readers to identify that the female figure in the wallpaper reflects the narrator and her position in the 19th Century society, as the oppression against women caused females of the generation to be trapped amongst males’ beliefs and requirements. The narrator strives to escape from the ‘norm’ and “shake” free from the patriarchal structures of the 19th Century society. This idea is very similar to the female in the wallpaper who shakes the bars she is imprisoned behind, in attempt to escape. This concept completely supports my hypothesis, and shows directly that the yellow wallpaper exposes the oppression against women in the 19th Century.

Korb explains that although the narrator despises her lack of freedom, she still intentionally remains oblivious when her husband makes every decision for her. Korb states, “This habit of the narrator of deliberately misreading her surroundings is apparent throughout the story. For instance when John refuses to give in to her fancies about changing the wallpaper” (2) I agree with the statement that Korb makes because in the primary text when the narrator confronts John about her dislike towards the wallpaper. John says “I (the narrator) was letting it get the better of me” and “He said that after the wallpaper was changed it would be the heavy bedstead next, and then the barred windows, and then the gate at the head of the stairs and so on.”

These quotes highlight the power that John has against his wife, and allow the reader to understand that in the 19th Century the male’s opinion always overruled the women’s opinion. This can relate to my hypothesis as the narrator was faced against the wallpaper everyday and if she got her way once then the rest of the furniture arrangements would follow, much like if women were not oppressed anymore, other circumstances would change too. The wallpaper is a symbol of the oppression against women in the 19th Century. Korb poses very significant questions in relation to John’s response to the wallpaper change; she says, “Is he reminding her of her confinement? Does she recognize this subtle way of controlling her? Rather than confronting such a possibility she instead, outwardly, relies on John’s advice.” (2) These questions that Korb poses are tremendously relevant to the quote stated previously as John references to the environment that the narrator is designated in; “heavy bedstead”, “barred windows”, “gate at the top of the stairs”, John emphasises the confinement that her surroundings present.

He blatantly names all fragments in her room that trap her from the wider world, as though it gives him a sense of pleasure and satisfaction. The narrator may not approve of the control and dominance that is set upon her but is left with no choice, as it was the ‘norm’ in the 19th Century living in a patriarchal society, therefore to John she acts unaware of the controlling situation that she is in. This concept may be seen as a weak and cowardly quality of the narrator, although she strengths as the story progresses and rips the wallpaper off the wall in order to feel free and repel John demands. She goes against John’s dominance and uses the wallpaper to express her emotions and what she wants. Women nowadays have a voice of their own, and their opinions and judgements are not overruled by the male gender. In general nowadays if a women spoke to their husband about changing the wallpaper due to them disliking it, it would be negotiated on a fair basis, the women’s opinion would be taken into account. Being a New Zealand citizen I am proud too know that we were the first country in the World to give women a voice, and that gradually provided hope and change for women across the World.

After analysing these two critics opinions relating to the oppression against women living in a patriarchal society it is clear that both critics support my hypothesis discussing slightly different perspectives. The yellow wallpaper describes how the narrator was trapped and dominated cruelly by the male gender. Interestingly references to patterns within the wallpaper conflict with the narrators mental state. However we learn her relationship with the wallpaper develops into something deeper which seems to reflect her feeling of confinement. By using a feminist lens to convey my hypothesis one can only imagine the total frustration at never being consulted on matters of importance to her such as the simplest of things- changing the wallpaper. The narrator’s inner turmoil through being oppressed is finally released by tearing off the yellow wallpaper she has escaped. I am glad to be a part of the 21st century where women are accepted for who they are and not oppressed by the male gender.

(1)
“The Yellow Wallpaper.” Short Story Criticism. Ed. Janet Witalec. Vol. 62. Detroit: Gale, 2003. Literature Resource Center. Web. 7 May 2014.

(2)
Korb, Rena. “An overview of ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’.” Gale Online Encyclopedia. Detroit: Gale, 2011. Literature Resource Center. Web. 16 Feb. 2011.

Feminism present in “The Yellow Wall Paper” & “Girl”

Gender equality has been a prevalent theme writer’s use to deliver their own personal views on the female role in society. This is the case in both “Girl” by Jamaica Kincaid and “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gillman. Kincaid and Gillman use their works to present a feminist approach on women’s roles and societal standings in their respective eras. Feminism can be defined as a diverse collection of social theories, moral philosophies and political movements, fundamentally motivated by/ concerning the experiences of women.

These experiences have a tendency to revolve around women’s social, political and economic standings. As a social movement, feminism mainly focuses on limiting or eliminating gender inequality and promoting women’s rights, interests’ and issue in society. Feminist literary criticism is literary criticism informed by feminist theory or by the politics of feminism more broadly.

Its history has been broad and varied. Kincaid and Gillman are two of many writers whose works adopt this criticism as a way in which to discuss their respected lives pertaining to the view and treatment of women by their societies.

In the most common and simple terms, feminist literary criticism before the 1970s (in the first and second waves of feminism) was concerned with the politics of women’s authorship and the representation of women’s condition within literature, this includes the depiction of fictional female characters. The father or in this case the mother of feminist literary criticism, is “Jane Eyre” written by Charlotte Bronte in 1847. Jane Eyre follows the emotions and experiences of its eponymous character, including her growth to adulthood and her love for Mr. Rochester. The novel contains elements of social criticism, with a resilient sense of morality at its core, but is nonetheless a novel many consider ahead of its time given the individualistic character of Jane and the novel’s exploration of classism, sexuality, religion and feminism.

In its internalization of the action, the story revolves around the gradual unfolding of Jane’s moral and spiritual awareness and all events are colored by a heightened intensity that were previously confined to poetry. Bronte’s story allows her to be labeled “the first historian of the private consciousness” and the literary ancestor of Jamaica Kincaid. Jamaica Kincaid-Girl Jamaica Kincaid was born Elaine Potter Richardson in 1949 in Antigua, in the British West Indies, but changed her name when she started writing because her family disliked her career choice. Her simple change of her name and having to operate under an alias provides and insight to Kincaid’s life. Her family disliking her choice of career gives a suggestion to the societal perception of a woman’s role. Women in society in the 1970s were only beginning to find their voice and Richardson’s family’s disapproval of her career choice, proposes the idea that society were still not comfortable with the newly found voice women had.

Jamaica Kincaid’s “Girl” can be analyzed from a Feminist perspective like Jane Eyre as it also revolves around a young girl’s interaction with her mother. Upon closer examination, the reader sees that the text is a string of images that are the cultural practices and moral principles that a Caribbean woman is passing along to her young daughter. Jamaica Kincaid has taken common advice that daughters are constantly hearing from their mothers and tied them into a series of commands that a mother uses to prevent her daughter from turning into “the slut that she is so bent on becoming” (Kincaid 23). But they are more than commands; the phrases are a mother’s way of insuring that her daughter has the tools that she needs to survive as an adult. The fact that the mother takes the time to train the daughter in the proper ways for a lady to act in their culture is indicative of their familial love; the fact that there are so many rules and moral principles that are being passed to the daughter indicates that mother and daughter spend a lot of time together.

The story is written in the second person point of view, in which the reader is the girl and the speaker (perceived to be her mother) is passing on her interpretation as to what a girl should be. Jeanette Martinez, an English Literature major studying at NYE notes in a paper “Analyzing ‘Girl’ from a feminist perspective”: “the diction degrades women; the word “slut” is used to describe a girl that does not conduct herself like a “proper” lady.” This is an interesting way in which to observe the diction used by Kincaid. The term “slut” is used as a negative comparison in which the mother in the story fears her daughter will become. Kincaid using the term “slut” takes a step in the wrong direction where feminism is concerned. The inclusion of the word and the sexual connotations attached draws attention to women being seen as depraved of morals if they are promiscuous.

This word takes attention away from the real message and goal of feminism; equality amongst men and women. Reducing a woman to being debauched purely on the premise of sexual immorality, takes respect away from women as their moral fiber is not taken into consideration. Martinez then proceeds to discuss how the tone and style of the text can be seen as being “reflective of Kincaid’s own social stand point.” Martinez states, “The tone is commanding; we see a repetitive “this is how” throughout the short story. The style of the short story is in lines, which allows each line to be a command. For example: “This is how you smile to someone you don’t like too much; This is how you smile at someone you don’t like at all;

This is how you smile to someone you like completely’” (Kincaid 24).” The tone and short, sharp manner in which Kincaid decides to communicate the life instructions, is representative of the voice of society and the harsh ways in which it tries to control and impart wisdom/ teachings. The final paragraph is integral to understanding this story from a feminist perspective. Kincaid states; “But what if the baker won’t let me feel the bread? you mean to say that after all you are really going to be the kind of woman who the baker won’t let near the bread?”. This interaction is essential to understanding and indicating Kincaid’s attempts to comment on her society. This excerpt can be interpreted as the mother challenging the girl’s morals. Kincaid uses this instead, to challenge the girl’s strength as a person. It is seemingly ironic that a mother has harshly demanded the young girl to learn all the mother’s habits and methods, not giving the girl much of a word in any of her decisions.

This is Kincaid’s ways to speak directly to her audience and say “how can the voices of society order women and girls alike to act a certain way without giving them the strength to make these decisions themselves?” Kincaid ultimately uses her story to tell women ‘strength is learned through experience, not instruction.’ The Yellow Wallpaper The Yellow Wallpaper is a feminist text, telling a story about a woman’s struggles against male-centric thinking and societal ‘norms’. The text may be unclear to the reader who is unfamiliar with Gilman’s politics and personal biography, yet, it impresses any reader with the immature treatment of the main character, who remains nameless in the text. To the casual reader, the story is one of a good-meaning, but oppressive husband who drives his wife mad in an attempt to help her, but it story illustrates how established procedures of behavior could have distressing effects on the women of Gilman’s time, regardless of the intentions of the source.

By late 20th century standards, the behavior of John, the husband, seems unnervingly inappropriate and restrictive, but was considered quite normal in the 19th century. After learning of Gilman’s life, and by reading her commentary and other works, one can readily see that The Yellow Wallpaper has a definite agenda in its quasi-autobiographical style. As revealed in Elaine Hedges’ forward from the Heath Anthology of American Literature, Gilman had a distressed life; because of the choices she had made which disrupted common conventions—from her ‘abandonment’ of her child to her amicable divorce. 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 suggestions in “The Yellow Wallpaper.” She carefully crafted her sentences and metaphors to instill a picture of vivid and disturbing male oppression. Her descriptions of the house recall a past era; she refers to it as an ‘ancestral hall’ (Gillman 648) 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 can be seen as 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. Charlotte Gillman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” and Jamaica Kincaid’s “Girl” are both great examples of feminism being represented in literature. A feminist text states the author’s agenda for women in society as they relate to oppression by a male-controlled power structure and the consequent creation of social ‘standards’ and ‘protocols’. Kincaid and Gillman’s tales respectively, are outstanding examples of this and are great tales in which the writers point out deficiencies in society regarding equal opportunity. Both texts are used by the writers to discuss their respected lives pertaining to the view and treatment of women by their societies.

‘The Yellow Wallpaper” and “A Rose for Emily”

Introduction

“A Rose for Emily”, is a story written by William Faulkner, who wrote many stories which include Sartoris, The Sound and the Fury, and As I Lay Dying (DLB, 1991). In “A Rose for Emily”, the reader sees a woman, Emily Grierson, who lives a life of loneliness, and how her attitude changes with this loneliness. Emily Grierson’s loneliness can be attributed to three main factors: her father, her secluded lifestyle, and Homer Barron’s rejection.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote a story named “The Yellow Wallpaper”.

It is a story of a woman who becomes insane by wallpaper in the room. After becoming mother of a child, she was diagnosed hysteria. The woman filled in her mind the yellow wallpaper and began to act deranged. The title, The Yellow Wallpaper, is well suited for this story as it plays a pivotal role in symbolizing what the woman deals with day & night; the wallpaper becomes a symbol for the reasons of her insanity.

Comparison and Contrast of “The Yellow Wallpaper” and “A Rose for Emily”

William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily,” is about a woman who became insane by her father, who this condition kills her last suitor, Homer Baron. Emily was slowly driven into insanity by her father and other males throughout her life. Initially she was young and was a slender figure in white, contrasted with her father, who is described as a straddled silhouette. The Grierson house, was white, decorated with cupolas and spires and scrolled balconies, becomes a further representation of her diminished state, as she transitions toward insanity. In its best times, the house was big, squarish and located on Jefferson’s most selected street. Viewing the house from this perspective gives the reader the impression that the house was not only very solid, but also larger than life, and gothic in nature.

Emily, a resident of that house, was also perceived in the same manner. However, Emily failed to maintain this image of strength as male figures, such as her father and Homer Baron caused her great embarrassment. After her father’s death, Emily was left without wealth, except for the house. After her father’s death she began to deteriorate, and looked like a girl with a vague resemblance to those angels in colored church windows – sort of tragic and serene, indicating her increasingly weakened image as a step towards insanity. The house also comes to reflect Emily’s decay as it obtains a stubborn and coquettish appearance. The inside of the house, which comes to represent Emily’s mental state, as well as her inner thoughts, also smelled of dust and disuse. (William Faulkner, 2003)

Much like Faulkner, Gillman uses the Gothic elements of the house in which the protagonist resides in order to mirror traits of her persona. Gillman used many Gothic elements in the story “The Yellow Wallpaper”. The residence that the husband rents for the summer as well as the immediate surroundings is presented right from the beginning of the story. It is a secluded located place three miles from the village; this location represents an isolated environment. Because it was a colonial mansion, it obtains a gothic style as if it is haunted by ghosts.

The haunted house contains a delicious garden, velvet meadows, old-fashioned flowers, and bushes and trees that come from broken green houses and overgrown roses suggest a dark green brown look. The garden has deep-shaded arbores, which are also gothic elements. The unclean yellow of the wallpaper is strangely faded by the slow-turning sunlight; it is a repellent, almost revolting yellow, and a dull yet lurid orange. The rings on the walls, the barred windows, and the nailed down bed all further support this dark atmosphere that persists in throughout story. (Howells, 1920)

Additionally, these elements are used to represent and symbolize the character’s mental condition as she is undergoing this ill-treatment by her husband. Jane becomes obsessed with the yellow wallpaper that is present in her room. It becomes a reflection of her mental state, becoming more complex and twisted as her condition worsens. “This paper looks to me as if it knew what a vicious influence it had…the pattern lolls like a broken neck and two bulbous eyes stare at you upside down,” in which Jane could be talking about herself, her influence and strength that is not seen and suppressed making it look like a hideous creature. Furthermore we see a reoccurring gothic image of broken necks and hanging heads, common in people who are hung. These Images of hanging people, which could indicated suicidal tendencies in Jane come up more often as her condition worsens. “They suddenly commit suicide-plunge off at outrageous angles, destroy themselves.”

Miss Emily is so lonely is because of Homer Barron’s rejection. When Homer Barron, a construction company foreman, enters the scene, the townspeople notice that he and Emily begin spending a great amount of time together. They say things such as “She will marry him”, “They are married”, and “She will persuade him yet”. Although Homer is said to homosexual, Emily hopes that this will one day be the man to end her loneliness. She is found to have bought men’s clothing and also toiletries with the initials H.B. on them. However, Homer’s attraction to men makes Emily jealous, and he says in his own words that he is not a marrying man.

At this, Emily begins to fear rejection and a complete lifetime of loneliness. When this is realized, Emily begins to crumble, and in a fit of both passion and insanity, Emily poisons Homer Barron, and keeps his body so that he will be hers forever. For forty years, Homer Barron’s corpse lies on a bed in an upstairs room. The body is positioned in an “attitude of an embrace”(171), and there is said to be “a long strand of iron-gray hair” on the pillow beside him. Therefore, after she murdered Homer, Emily would lie beside him, and in an insane way, she would relieve a portion of her loneliness. (Birk, 1997)

Another gothic and mythical element used to depict the insanity of the protagonist is the image of creeping women behind the walls and in the gardens of the house. These creeping women who are seen by Jane are all images of her multiple selves as she sees them everywhere. She even comes to tell us that she creeps by daylight and that she locks the doors when she does so As her condition worsens the suppressed personalities that lurked within the protagonist’s subconscious become stronger and appear more as The front pattern does move-and no wonder! The woman behind shakes it. In daytime when she is watched and people are around her and she feels in place with society in the very bright spots she keeps still, but in secret as her condition gets stronger, in the very shady spots she just takes hold of the bars and shakes them hard…she is all the time trying to climb through.

The assumption does not help her sickness, in fact, Jane; the narrator believes that it’s the reason why she cannot get better. But it is pointless for her to argue, since her brother; also a physician of high standings affirms the diagnosis. She is not allowed to have her opinion; it is dismissed as soon as it is said. She feels guilty to even think her husband is wrong about her sickness, as she take pains to control myself – before him at least, and that makes me very tired. Jane has her opinions, but to no avail, she has to take her husband’s orders. (Gilbert & Susan, 1979)

The changes between day and night times, add to the mysterious setting in which Jane is placed in. The final, strongest personality starts to isolate itself within her as that personality “gets out in the daytime”. In the final night before they leave the final transition takes place the new personality surfaces, “I’ve got out at last,” and goes on to refer to the husband and the old personality as “you and Jane,” referring to her old self in the third person as she is now a new and transformed personality that cant be put back, and she goes on creeping and crawling around the room.

Gillman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” shares many other similarities with Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily.” In “The Yellow Wallpaper,” the protagonist is driven into insanity by her husband, who ill-treats her. The husband in “The yellow Wallpaper” is acting towards the female character out of love. In both cases they drive the female character insane. This is also the case with Emily as she is driven insane by her father and Homer. The Yellow Wallpaper uses the gothic house and the wallpaper as a representation of the female characters mental state, whereas Faulkner displays the male character through the house.

Emily, like Jane, reflected the house itself. In “The yellow Wallpaper,” Jane’s deterioration is described in much more detail in comparison to the other two pieces. When comparing “The Yellow Wallpaper” with “A Rose for Emily”, we find that both Emily Grierson and Jane are forced into solitude by the control the males have over them. Emily’s father rejects all of her potential husbands; Jane’s husband isolates her from any possible stimulation. Emily is a recluse ensnared in a condemned home, and Jane is a delusional woman trapped in a mental ward. Ultimately, when considering the different styles of these authors, and the different themes of these stories, it is interesting to see how the usage of gothic elements in describing the houses is used to personify the characters.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Emily Grierson suffered a harsh and lonely life. Her father’s refusal to allow suitors was inconsiderate and selfish. She was left with only him, and after his death, she was alone. She had no one to turn to, and if she hadn’t been a pauper, she would have been out on the street. Her decisions to exclude herself from the town and to keep her life private and mysterious did not help her state of loneliness, but made things worse. She was setting herself up for a complete lifetime of solitude.

At the recognition that Homer Barron would not marry her, she became mad with rage. It was her last chance to end her isolation and to find a man to love her. At this rejection, Emily Grierson took Homer’s life, and kept his body locked away for her pleasure. Her lifetime of loneliness had finally caught up to her, and she had become insane because of the pain and grief which had become such a tremendous burden in her life.

The Yellow Wallpaper is written at a time when women’s health issues were not important. Men used their theories to form medical groups. It was not the time for women, all the men expect that the women will live under their control and obey their orders. In this story the women tried to take control over their husbands and struggle for their freedom.

References:

The Dictionary of Literary Biography (DLB). Vol. 102: American Short Story Writers 1910-1945. Ed. Bobby Ellen Kimbel. Gde Research. London. 1991, p. 78-81

William Faulkner, “A Rose for Emily.” Discovering Literature: Stories, Poems, and Plays. 3rd ed. Eds. Hans P. Guth and Gabriele Rico. Upper Saddle River, N.J. Prentice Hall, 2003, p.165-172.

Birk, John F. ”Tryst Beyond Time: Faulkner’s Emily and Keats.” In Studies
in Short Fiction, Vol. 28, No. 2, Spring 1997, pp. 203-13.

Hedges, Elaine R., An afterword to The Yellow Wallpaper, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Feminist Press, 1973, pp. 37-63

Howells, William Dean, “A Reminiscent Introduction,” in The Great Modern American Stories: An Anthology, Bom and Livenght, 1920, pp. vii-xiv.

Gilbert, Sandra M., and Susan Gubar, “Infection in the Sentence: The Woman Writer and the Anxiety of Authorship,” in The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination, Yale University Press, 1979, pp. 45-92.

Male Dominance in Marriage

The main female characters in Kate Chopin’s The Story of an Hour and Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper similarly provide the concept of male dominance in a traditional marriage. This is achieved through the vivid description of both Mrs. Mallard and the narrator’s emotional burdens as they fulfill their obligations as their husbands’ wives. Albeit not directly stated in any of the two stories, the very situations of the wives in the hands of their husbands already show the negative effects of male dominance in the emotional well-being of women in marriages.

Kate Chopin’s The Story of an Hour may have started to establish the personality of Mrs. Mallard as a sensitive woman who dearly loves her husband. Gradually, Chopin reveals an ambiguity in the feelings of the character as she describes Mrs. Mallard that, “When she abandoned herself a little whispered word escaped her slightly parted lips. She said it over and over under her breath: ‘free, free, free! ’” (Chopin, ).

Gradually, readers are given a wider view of how Mrs.

Mallard feelings are becoming. “There would be no powerful will bending hers in that blind persistence with which men and women believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow-creature” (Chopin, ). However, in the end, readers are implicitly informed that the cause of Mrs. Mallard’s death is due to the realization that her husband is actually alive. “When the doctors came they said she had died of heart disease –of the joy that kills” (Chopin, ).

The last statement gives out the message that the joy upon seeing her husband alive is not actually the reason for her death but rather because of the freedom that has been lost when he appeared at their doorstep. In this story, the Mrs. Mallard secretly endures a miserable life with her husband which can be blamed on women’s domesticity. After a moment of grief, she becomes glad that she is finally free from the demanding grasps of her husband. The pressures and demands brought about by the society’s claim that women’s role are merely for domestic purposes pushes Mrs.

Mallard into being grateful for her husband’s death. This is, of course, a wrongful act however it is triggered by the character’s desire for liberation. Mrs. Mallard’s suppressed desire for liberation somewhat mirrors that of the narrator’s in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper. The problem of male dominance in a marriage can also be observed as the writer uncovers the mental and emotional effects of male dominance and social pressure to women. It is a story about the wickedness of confinement—literally and psychologically.

In the story, the narrator’s husband locks her inside a room with yellow wallpaper because he believes that she would be cured of her post-partum depression due to recently giving birth. He thinks he could cure her by means of rest cure treatment. This symbolizes the very prison that the husband made for his wife when he married her. As a result, the wife resorts and depends on the images that the yellow wallpaper provides her. She begins to see images crawling and creeping inside it and starts hallucinating, thus, worsening the mental state of the wife.

The story is an entire symbolism of women being manipulated fully by men. The husband’s way of taking charge of his wife’s mental health signifies the concept of male domination in the story. “If a physician of high standing, and one’s own husband, assures friends and relatives that there is really nothing the matter with one but temporary nervous depression—a slight hysterical tendency—what is one to do? ” (Gilman, ). The narrator’s question reveals the powerlessness of a woman in her society if a “physician of higher standing” whom she refers as a man has already made a conclusion and solution against her will.

In a thorough analysis, the husband symbolizes the patriarchal ascendancy that restricts women’s lives. They are expected to always follow and obey their husbands and fathers as they are believed to know the best for everyone. In Kate Chopin’s The Story of an Hour, readers are exposed to the concept of a wife trying to bear the news of her husband’s death and the ambiguity of her feelings towards it. In Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper, the author presents the ongoing problem of male dominance over females.

Nonetheless, both stories deal with how husbands usually hold the authority in a household and the extremity of such authority can lead to esteem and emotional problems for women. Works Cited Chopin, Kate. “The Story of an Hour. ” Literature and Society: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, Nonfiction. Eds. Pamela J. Annas and Robert C. Rosen. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2009. pp. 358. Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. “The Yellow Wallpaper. ” Literature and society: an introduction to fiction, poetry, drama, nonfiction Eds. Pamela J. Annas and Robert C. Rosen. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2009. pp. 307

Symbolism and Allegory in “The Yellow Wallpaper”

The “rest cure” (Gilman, 1913, 1) was not always the right prescription. Charlotte Perkins Gilman wanted to communicate that with her readers of the controversial short story, “The Yellow Wallpaper” (1899). Many physicians claimed her story drove people mad and protested her depiction of how physicians gave wrong treatment to people with mental illness. The Yellow Wallpaper may have been a shocking story for many but it was not meant to drive people crazy. Instead, it was meant to save people from being driven crazy (Gilman, 1913).

Varying interpretations may emerge from this striking story, but Gilman was right. It is up for the readers to decide whether her story benefited their lives or not. What is important to be understood is: people need people. In times of trouble, they need to stay connected with their loved ones and be assured of their support. That will give them strength to fight their problems and prevent them from drowning further into their troubles. The story “The Yellow Wallpaper” (1899) is a classic American short story written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

It was written during the era when feminism was starting to unfold. It also provoked the awareness to women’s rights. The feminists were provided a welcome support for their claims and positions. Gilman’s time was also the time of Jane Austen, Mary Shelley, Florence Nightingale: women who used their abilities to write to express the sentiments of women who succumbed to gender discrimination for centuries (Nightingale, 1992). The story was also influenced by the Gothic genre when the focus was on the individual mind, how it can create horror, fear and reveal secrets of the self (Sedgwick, 1980).

The release of the story in 1899 troubled various sectors of the society, especially the physicians who felt insulted by the criticisms on their “rest cure” prescriptions. But despite protests, arguments and criticisms, the story remains a classic literary masterpiece, teeming with symbolisms and allegory. It brings every reader to a different world as an unnamed narrator relays her life and her battle fighting a worsening mental illness. Symbolisms and Allegories on Feminism

“Women had the potential of men and none of opportunities” was Florence Nightingale’s popular statement that gave the boost to the 19th century feminist revolution (Nightingale, 1992). Gilman supported the women’s plight expressing strong symbols and allegories of feminism in her story. Somehow, though feminism was not mentioned as being part of why the story was written (Gilman, 1913), the relationship of the characters showed evidences of suppression on freedom and rights of women.

The narrator is a typical female character in the 18th and 19th centuries: pious, loving and fully obedient especially to the husband (Women in 1900, 2008). The narrator (unnamed), the protagonist of the story, was diagnosed with “temporary nervous depression – slight hysterical tendency” (Gilman, 1899, 1), and was advised by her physician (her husband John), to take a “rest cure” (Gilman 1913, 1). That meant the narrator and her husband would spend three months living in a remote villa with very limited people visiting and taking fresh air, peace, quiet and plenty of rest.

At the sight of the villa they were set to live in for three months, the narrator reacted that she did not like it, expressing that it was eerie and haunted. “John laughs at me, of course, but one expects that in marriage”(Gilman, 1899, 1). The statement was open to many meanings. The couple was going to live in a remote mansion for three months; the wife expressed she did not feel good about the place, and she was laughed at. The vacation was also intended to make the wife get better but her feelings about the place were ignored. That represented a clear discrimination of a wife’s rights to make decisions in marriage.

It showed how husbands made decisions without considering the needs and views of the wives. It was an old enduring cultural practice and the narrator knew that her appeals would be in vain. It was no wonder that the narrator made many similar comments expressing her resentments for being deprived but realizing that she could not do anything about it. “He is very careful and loving, and hardly lets me stir without special direction” (Gilman, 1899, 1). That was an allegory (Todorov, 1984, 205) expressing helplessness for being deprived of freedom.

“It is so hard to talk with John about my case, because he is so wise, and because he loves me so”(Gilman, 1899, 5). This is another allegorical remark where she possibly convinces herself that even if her husband does not recognize her being a partner in a relationship, his decision was always intended for her betterment. Even if he refuses to listen to her, he loves her and he knows better, especially because he is a doctor. Symbolisms and Allegories on Mental Illness The symbolisms on the narrators eroding mental condition were very striking.

The word “yellow” was made to represent something dull and unpleasant. She even described yellow not just as an unpleasant color but as a distasteful smell (Gilman, 1899, 8), so that the reader can imagine how yellow could look and smell so bad. The yellow wallpaper tortured the mind of the narrator that she became obsessed to strip it off the wall. As she advanced in her efforts, she sees various forms and creatures that drove her deep down into her mental illness. She saw formations of creeping women, fungi, toadstools, walloping seaweeds and even bars on the wall (Gilman, 1899, 6).

The creeping women could represent the struggles of women like her to gain importance in the society. The fungi, toadstools and seaweeds that create the maze in the walls are the society’s justifications for the treatment given to women like her. The society tolerates and even supports male domination and female submission that is why women are confused. They feel like they are in a maze, not understanding their positions in the society and in the family, and whether being humans, they are in equal levels with men. The bars represent the hindrances, the blockages to all the things women want to do in their lives.

They could not say “no” because they are supposed to be fully obedient to their parents and especially to their husbands. From birth, they were reared to become respectable women; which meant, they behave like other women in the community: prim, proper, pious and obedient. The sights on the walls: the torn wallpaper in every corner of the bedroom proved the narrator’s deepening melancholy. These also showed her suppressed resentment for being ignored and without the power to do anything about it. The narrator loathed all that was in the bedroom.

She hated even the bed which she believed was chained to the floor because it was immovable (Gilman, 1899, 9). The bed could have given her the opportunity to connect with the husband and feel the love and support. For her, the bed was chained. The allegory could mean that even at night in the arms of her husband, she felt no connection. It could also mean that the husband, who is a doctor and a busy man, did not talk, caress or even touch her. For married couples, the bed is the most intimate place that husband and wife can connect. It is where they can do their private expressions which they cannot usually do anywhere else.

It could have been a chance for John to show how he really loved his wife even if he is away most of the time. Although John unquestionably loved his wife, the male supremacy that the society built on him throughout his life, made him forget many things. That included his wife’s need for his compassion and passion when they are in bed. The narrator longed for that chance to connect but the bed was empty and immovable. Because of that, she drifted her attention to the wall and even if she loathed it, she accepted that it was the only thing that really communicated with her.

“And I’ve pulled off most of the paper, so you can’t put me back! ” (Gilman, 1899, 12) The narrator said that when the she was caught by her husband in the act, creeping and stripping the yellow wall paper, her illness already enveloping her. She so eagerly tore the wall paper, like she removed all the barriers to her life. Because she was so powerless in real life, she was powerful in her ailing mind. She was able to remove the maze, the fungi, the toadstools, the seaweeds so that the creeping women could be free; so that she could free herself.

The saddening part was, because she was stronger and happier in her other world, she found it more difficult to go back to reality. Who then is to blame for the narrator’s predicament? John and the other characters in the story may have made mistakes in providing care for the narrator but they truly loved her and wanted her to get well. They just did not know how and what kind of care they should have given considering her sensitive mental condition. It was the 19th century and men were brought up to dominate women in almost all aspects and women were raised to be submissive and obedient.

It was the 19th century and science and technology did not have the DSM IV and various cognitive and behavioral therapies for depression (Psychology Information Online, 2008) and other medicines that are now proven effective in treating mental illnesses. The narrator was just a victim of her times. People need people. She needed her husband and her family to stay with her especially when she became mentally ill. She needed them to stay connected, give her their love and assure her that they will be there. That would have given her the strength to hold on, to fight her illness and prevent her from drowning further into her mental illness.

Works Cited Gilman, C. The Yellow Wallpaper. Small & Maynard, Boston, MA. 1899. Retrieved 29 April 2009 from <http://www. library. csi. cuny. edu/dept/history/lavender/wallpaper. html> Gilman, C. Why I Wrote the Yellow Wallpaper. About. com Classic Literature. 1913. Retrieved 29 April 2009 from <http://classiclit. about. com/library/bl-etexts/cpgilman/bl-cpgilman-whyyellow. htm> Nightingale, F. Cassandra, in Suggestions for Thought (1860). Poovey, Mary (ed. ) Pickering and Chatto 1992 Psychology Information Online. Depression, Information and Treatment. 2008.

Retrieved 28 April 2009 from <http://www. psychologyinfo. com/depression/> Sedgwick, E. The Structure of Gothic Convention. The Coherence of Gothic Conventions. New York: Arno. 1980. St. Jean, S. The Yellow Wallpaper: A Dual-Text Critical Edition. Illustrated Edition. Ohio University Press. 2006. Todorov, T. Theories of the Symbol. Illustrated Edition. Cornel University Press. 1984. Women in 1900. 2008. Retrieved 29 April 2009 from <http://www. historylearningsite. co. uk/women_in_1900. htm> Nightingale, F. Cassandra, in Suggestions for Thought (1860). Poovey, Mary (ed. ) Pickering and Chatto 1992

Feminine Transformation In Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper”

Fiction is often used as a vehicle to convey radical ideas to readers. These ideas are usually reflected in the themes of the stories so that the clarity of expression is more apparent. The theme of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” is quite unique in that it expresses feministic ideas in a seemingly ordinary situation. “The Yellow Wallpaper” is a story that reveals various truths about the woman and chronicles the feministic transformation of this woman towards modern womanhood.

Gilman employs the first person perspective in her story to allow her unnamed protagonist to reveal elements of her emotions that would otherwise be concealed from the audience. The protagonist, along with her physician husband and a certain Jenny move into a huge house for the purpose of her recovery from an illness; in the house the husband assigns a room for the both of them which is a large room with distinctive yellow wallpaper all over the walls. The protagonist is then disturbed by the wallpaper and begins to derive images from it which in turn is used as a metaphor for her feministic transformation.

The earlier part of the tale reveals much about how the traditional woman actually is. The very first aspect of the traditional woman that one would easily notice from the text is a submissive personality. The lines, “But John says if I feel so, I shall neglect proper self-control; so I take pains to control myself – before him, at least, and that makes me very tired. ” (Gilman) illustrate how the protagonist neglects her own feelings before her husband and this implies that if she prioritizes what her husband felt over what she felt, she was quite likely to do the same with other more menial things making her exceptionally submissive.

Another aspect of the woman revealed in earlier parts of the tale is the feminine view on marriage. In the lines, “John laughs at me, of course, but one expects that in marriage. ” (Gilman) the protagonist describes how her husband reacts to her when she complains about something weird in the house they were moving into. When the husband laughs, the protagonist concludes that this is normal when two people are married. In effect, the protagonist views marriage as an excuse for ridicule and the fact that she is married to someone requires that she accept that ridicule as part of being married.

This is a strange perception on the part of the protagonist but because of the submissive attitude of this main character it is not surprising that she should think this way. Other than this, her submission even affects her desire to write as she conceals her writing, hence, the protagonist admits, “I did write for a while in spite of them; but it does exhaust me a good deal” (Gilman) because she had to write despite contradictions from her husband as this made her feel better.

The decision of the protagonist to write expresses the protagonist’s, “struggle to throw off the constraints of patriarchal society in order to be able to write. ” (Thomas) So, in these first few parts, the author describes the current state of the protagonist, where “Women were cast as emotional servants whose lives were dedicated to the welfare of home and family in the perservence of social stability”. (Thomas) In a way, the author even discreetly refers to the sexual inadequacies of the relationship by referring to a “nailed-down bed” in the lines, “I lie here on this great immovable bed – it is nailed down, I believe…” (Gilman)

Eventually, as the protagonist focuses her attention on the yellow wallpaper and the fact that her husband insists that they do not change it despite pleas from the protagonist, she begins to see the wallpaper as something else reflecting the bondage that she experienced from being isolated and treated inappropriately by her husband. This is quite clear in the lines, “Behind that outside pattern…a woman stooping down and creeping about behind that pattern. ” (Gilman) Here, the protagonist initially describes a woman apparently caged behind the wallpaper patterns.

While this could be images within the protagonist’s mind, it definitely reflects how she feels being in the room and in her situation. This image of bondage is further amplified by the lines, “At night in any kind of light…worst of all by moonlight, it becomes bars! The outside pattern I mean, and the woman behind it is as plain as can be. ” (Gilman) It is at this point that the protagonist expresses an intrinsic feeling of bondage because she is not able to express it outwardly, and so, projects the feeling unto the wallpaper.

This particular incident, “is a reaction to the lack of free agency that women had in the late 1800’s “. (Gilbert) Soon, days before the last day the couple was to spend in the mansion, the protagonist breaks free and becomes a new, more liberal woman. This is implied in the lines, “I pulled and she shook, I shook and she pulled, and before morning we had peeled off yards of that paper;” (Gilman) which the protagonist used to describe her peeling off the paper. During the motions she admits to helping the woman behind the patterns but indirectly, this implies that the woman she was helping was herself.

The act, therefore, of tearing the wallpaper was parallel to freeing the woman behind the patterns, and so, freeing herself from her personal bondage. (Garcia) The protagonist, hence, went from being a traditional woman to a liberated woman in her feminist transformation, even when the conclusions of the story seemed to imply that the protagonist had lost her mind because of the isolation, hence, the lines, “”I’ve got out at last,” said I, “in spite of you and Jane. And I’ve pulled off most of the paper, so you can’t put me back! ” (Gilman) where she had finally fused her own persona with the persona of the woman behind the patterns.

Quite obviously, the textual evidence in this tale consistently describe the struggles of a woman from being the kind enslaved by a patriarchal society to someone who was able to express her own individuality, albeit, unconventionally. The story very clearly describes how one woman transformed gradually from being traditional to being the new or modern woman. ? Works Cited Garcia, Viola. “Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper”. ” fgcu. edu. N. p. , 2009. Web. 1 Aug. 2010. <http://itech. fgcu. edu/faculty/wohlpart/alra/gilman. htm>. Gilbert, Kelly.

“The Yellow Wallpaper: An Autobiography of Emotions by Charlotte Perkins Gilman . ” fgcu. edu. N. p. , 2009. Web. 1 Aug. 2010. <http://itech. fgcu. edu/faculty/wohlpart/alra/gilman. htm>. Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. “The Yellow Wallpaper. ” EastoftheWeb. com. N. p. , 2006. Web. 1 Aug. 2010. <http://www. eastoftheweb. com/short-stories/UBooks/YelWal. shtml>. Thomas, Deborah. “The Changing Role of Womanhood: From True Woman to New Woman in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper”. ” fgcu. edu. N. p. , 2009. Web. 1 Aug. 2010. <http://itech. fgcu. edu/faculty/wohlpart/alra/gilman. htm>.