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Charlotte Perkins GilmanS The Yellow Wallpaper Essay

, Research Paper

?The Yellow Wallpaper?: Symbols of a Woman?s Submissions

In Charlotte Perkins Gilman?s ?The Yellow Wallpaper?, we see a shivering study of derangement. It is a grievous story narrated by a young woman driven to insanity by a husband that imposes a rest/cure for her sickness, although he believes that it is only ?temporary nervous depression…? (118). This short story graphically reflects her torment and her husbands control over her.

The woman has a mental breakdown, yet John, her husband, continuously tells her that she is fine. ?I am a doctor, dear, and I know. You are gaining flesh and color, your appetite is better, I feel really much easier about you? (123).

Does John really care and understand his wife at all? He seems to be more concerned about his reputation. John reflects

a representation of the time period. He cared about her. He just didn?t know what to do about it. He was not a psychiatrist he was a physician, ?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?? (118).

The narrator was forbidden to do anything that took too much thinking so she had to hide everything and eventually resorted to creeping around the room to do what she wanted.

She wanted to break loose from the constraints that her husband had on her just as the woman in the wallpaper wanted out by shaking the bars. Women in the time of this story had to be aware of there male counterparts and were so ingrained with submissiveness that they had to ?creep? to do what they wanted or hide what they were doing for fear of not being a good wife.

In Denise D Knight?s ?Herland, The Yellow Wallpaper, and Selected Writings?, C.P. Gilman?s poem, ?In Duty Bound? reflects what was felt by women in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

an obligation pre-imposed, unsought,

Yet binding with the force of natural law;

The pressure of antagonistic thought;

Aching within, each hour,

A sense of wasting power.

A house with roof so darkly low

The heavy rafters shut the sunlight out;

One cannot stand erect without a blow;

Until the soul inside

Cries for a grave-more wide…(318)

Just as in ?The Yellow Wallpaper?, this poem gives insight to the urgency and hopelessness of women who feel the duty to be submissive.

This woman is being dominated by her husband merely because she is sick. She is put into a room that she doesn?t like and every time she expresses that to her husband, he ignores her. She finally overpowers him. She sees eyes in the wallpaper. They are her eyes. She rips the wallpaper off the wall to let herself out and be the woman she wants to be. Her husband fainted at the sight of it all and she crawled over him, overcoming his dominance.

Anne J Lane quotes Gilman in ?To Herland and Beyond?. ?Women?s subordination will only end when women lead the struggle for their own autonomy, therby freeing men as well as themselves, because men suffer from the distortions that come from dominance, just as women are scared by the subjugation imposed upon them?(5).

Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. ?The Yellow Wallpaper.? Fiction. Eds. Trimmer, Joseph F., and Wade A. Jennings. 4th Edition. New York: Harcourt Brace College Publishers, 1998 117-128

Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. ?In Duty Bound? Charlotte Perkins Gilman Herland, The Yellow Wallpaper, and Selected Writings. Ed. Denise B Knight. New York: Peguin Books Ltd, 1999.

Lane, Anne J. To Herland and Beyond. New York: Pantheon Books, 1990

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