Chained To Society Essay

1678 words - 7 pages

It is easy for one to feel trapped in a seemingly familiar setting. The story, The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, entails the struggle of a woman who feels confined in her own home and who becomes unable to organize her thoughts. She is assured by her husband that she is normal, yet she cannot come to terms with the feelings she harbors. She is forced to accept the societal standards that place women in lower status, because she is incapable of challenging the recognized power structures. She has no outlet to express concern or desire which ultimately makes her seem substandard. The story takes the reader through her journey during the seventeenth century where the societal norms were extremely different, especially in regards to gender equality and women’s rights. The difference in beliefs is evident throughout many aspects of the story and the narrator struggles to overcome these inherent barriers. The obstacles are both mental and emotional and strike the main characters internal struggles. There is a clear subjugation of women that occurs in the marriage, the environment, and in a woman’s ability to express themselves.
Historically, women have been seen as the weaker person in the bond of marriage. Throughout the story, the narrator is degraded in various ways due to the ramifications of engaging in this institutional practice. First, she mentions many instances where John has been erroneous, insensitive, or abusive, but is unable to vocalize any disconnect for fear of repercussions. “He has no patience with faith, an intense horror of superstition, and he scoffs openly at any talk of things not to be felt and seen and put down in figures” (271). The narrator feels as if John is a hindrance to her being because she is unable to do what she wishes and is subjected to his notion of a woman’s role. Instead of marriage being an equal partnership, the story portrays the practice as a patriarchal mandate in which a woman must comply. This is a clear example of how she is being conquered by the domination of her husband in a tradition that is intended to be equal to both participants. The narrator is evidently being controlled in her actions, but the story reveals that it may be spreading to her internal voice. “I sometimes fancy that in my condition if I had less opposition and more society and stimulus—but John says the very worst thing I can do is think about my condition, and I confess it always makes me feel bad. So I will let it alone and talk about the house” (272). The quotation clearly illuminates that John’s rules are being taken to a mental level where she feels negatively if she simply thinks about something she is forbidden from. Additionally, she stops her train of thought to think about what John would say. This demonstrates that his authority is always in the back of her mind and that she cannot bear to think for herself without worrying of John’s reaction. This leads her to live a life of constant fear of male...

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