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Gender Roles During T He Nineteenth Century

1594 words - 7 pages

During the Nineteenth Century, the gender roles were greatly divided. Women were seen to have a completely differently status and nature from men. The stereotypical woman during this time-period was dependent, passive, domestic, and far weaker then a man. Men on the other hand, were far more dominant, dependent, controlling, ambitious and active. Men were the protectors and providers for the family. As if women weren’t already inferior enough to men, when they got married, essentially everything that was theirs was striped from them. What she once owned, was now her husbands, this included her savings, her land, her slaves, her freedom and especially her independence (Steele and Brislen). ...view middle of the document...

(Gilman)
In “The Yellow Wallpaper” the narrator was never really identified. On the other hand though, we know all about her husband, John. He is a successful doctor who is the stereotypical husband of the nineteenth century. Although he was loving and caring for his wife, he was very controlling, insensitive and over bearing. In the beginning of the story we are told that the narrator is ill. John doesn’t take her illness too seriously; he diagnoses her with temporary nervous depression. John took his wife to a get-away cottage for her to get better. John’s high stature is shown when he does not let the narrator stay in the room that she wishes. He insists that she resides in a large, open room upstairs with windows that are barricaded and a bed that had been nailed to the floor. The walls are intriguing to the narrator. They are a patchy and yellow, patterned, ripped and torn in certain areas. Although the narrator tells us that she does not like the room at all, she does finds interest in the wallpaper that is surrounding her.
Throughout “The Yellow Wallpaper” the narrator constantly refers to the wallpaper that surrounds her. She says, “I’m getting really fond of the room in spite of the wallpaper. Perhaps because of the wallpaper.” (Gillman 1125) She originally believes that she sees a figure in the wallpaper that is sulking and she is determined to decrypt its meaning. As days go by, the wallpaper becomes more clear to the narrator and she eventually recognizes the figure to be a woman faintly behind a pattern. This is where her obsession really grew, and began to lose her sanity. She noticed that the pattern of the paper changes as the light of day changes. During the day, the pattern is still, so the narrator takes advantage and sleeps much during the day. At night on the other hand, she is up studying the walls. It became clear that the pattern that the woman was behind was bars; these bars are trapping a woman and she is shaking them to trying escape. John’s wife is slowly crawling out of her illness the more she studies the walls and she believes that it is the wallpaper that is causing her to improve. It’s like it gives her meaning to live; she really looks forward to decoding the walls and being the only one to do so.
In the story, Charlotte Gilman illustrates the narrator as a somewhat scared, weak and reserved person. It is quite obvious from the beginning, that John is the reason his wife is this way. The narrator is often mocked and talked down to by her husband, she said, “John laughs at me” and that John “scoffs openly at any talk of things not to be felt and seen and put down in figures.” (Gilman 1118) Since John sees himself as such a high standing professional doctor, if he doesn’t have some sort of evident proof of something, he believes it is just something of ones imagination. The narrator is afraid of her husband catching her studying the walls because she knows that he will make fun of her. He treats her as if she...

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