“The Yellow Wallpaper” Story by Charlotte Gilman Essay
The yellow wallpaper is a short, poignant story, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman involving a woman confined by her husband in a bedroom for summer holiday. The story portrays various effects of confinement including emotional and physical effects on the woman’s health. Temporary nervous depression, as termed by the husband, is a factor that makes the husband prohibits her from roaming in the rest of the house but only upstairs. The story is a first person narration with main characters john and her wife dominating the whole story.
It has a plot in a house as described by her as, “a colonial mansion, a hereditary estate, I would say a haunted house”. It is a house where the woman as exclaimed is an antagonist trying to find her way out of confinement. The husband John, on the other hand, is a protagonist who believes in his principles although not caring, whether they infringe other people’s rights. The first version of the book got published during the 19th century in the New England magazine, in January 1892.
The born of contention in the story arises due to varying opinion and interest where the man John feel he should be responsible for the wife. He believes the wife’s confinement is correct, in order to prevent her temporary nervous depression. This is because the disease hysterical tendency was common among women during the period. Since movement is healthy for any living organism, the confinement affects the wife’s health and finally developing a psychosis. The room where she stays has nothing to stimulate her; this makes her develop an interest in the yellow color of the wall paper. For instance, she says, “it makes me think of all the yellow things I ever saw, not beautiful ones like buttercups, but old foul, bad yellow things”. This is an indication of the obsession in the yellow color, which only came due to confinement in the room.
Feminism critics remain, the conflict evident and dominant, in the whole story acting as a denunciation of the androcentric hegemony during the 19th century. The man diminishes the woman role of engaging with the society, giving birth to children and working as other women when she gets isolated. She does not get the chance to interact with other people and does not have even the responsibility of taking care of her own children. This, therefore, gives a man to woman conflict as the woman gets trapped not only in marriage but also to the man’s confinement.
The story starts with a soft and soothing mood but soon rises to with increased tension. As the wife insanity continues to increase, the climax gets reached with many people blaming the man while other people blame the woman. The woman gets secluded in the room and does not fight for her freedom. Once in the room she fantasies many things but does not attempt to obtain her freedom. The man, on the other hand, uses all his force on order to protect his wife from the dominant disease at the time affecting women.
In conclusion, John gets depicted as an assertive and caring husband who protects her kind, submissive and receptive wife. Feminism remains the dormant theme as the wife lacks empowerment to enjoy what other women enjoy. The story, therefore, is a real life event, which educates women to develop enthusiasm and ambitions in life.
Gilman, Charlotte. The Yellow Wallpaper. Chicago: Mundus Publishing, 1973. P rint
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