A Bad Case Of Inferiority Essay

1532 words - 6 pages

Although a reader cannot assume the narrator is also the author, in some instances the resemblance is uncanny. Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story “The Yellow Wallpaper”, drew on her own experience of undergoing the infamous Rest Cure of Doctor Silas Weir Mitchell to write her story. According to Gilman, “[The story] was not intended to drive people crazy, but to save people from being driven crazy, and it worked” (The Forerunner). Through her platform of writing Gilman successfully illustrated the inferiority women suffered. The Rest Cure led people to believe that women should “live as domestic a life as far as possible” and only be allowed to “have but two hours' intellectual life a day,” (The Forerunner). These restrictions propagated the idea that women were to be seen and not heard. In addition, the only place women were to be seen was in the household. The work of Doctor Mitchell shows just how controlled many women’s lives were at this time. Women succumbed to the will of their spouses constantly. Throughout “The Yellow Wallpaper” Gilman uses symbolism, specifically the nursery and the wallpaper, to exemplify the inferiority women dealt with in society and how it inevitably drove some women to try and find their freedom.
The theme of inferiority reoccurs throughout Gilman’s work. Throughout the story it seems as though men have the upper hand and the power in the relationship of husband and wife. The narrator’s husband, being a physician, prescribes medications to cure her hysteria. Even though she does not agree with his methods she goes along with them. An example would be when the narrator states, “Personally, I disagree with their ideas...But what is one to do?” (Gilman 625). This conformity to her husband’s will shows the narrator's inferiority and lack of authority in her marital relationship. Even though the narrator has a personal conviction her husband’s prescriptions are not in her best interest, she stays silent because of the societal constraints of female inferiority. According to the Rest Cure women were “never to touch pen, brush, or pencil again” thus emulating male dominance over female freedom in the form of artistic expression (The Forerunner). Within the story the narrator uses writing as an escape; however, she keeps it completely hidden from her husband. An example of the narrator’s submission to her husband’s commands would be as followed: “There come John, and I must put this away-her hates to have me write a word,” (Gilman 627). By neglecting her own self wants the narrator gives into the will of her husband. This action of compliance shows the power that men can have and how they sometimes exercise that power to make women feel inferior.
The nursery, exemplifies the theme of inferiority, serves as the main setting for the story. The irony is that the “ill” person needs to be taken care of and resides in the nursery; thus, the husband is treating the narrator like a child. Through diction the reader can...

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