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Gender Roles In The Yellow Wallpaper

1490 words - 6 pages

The Yellow Paper is a short story published in 1892, and written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Charlotte tells of a disheartening tale of a woman who struggles to free herself from postpartum depression. The Yellow Paper gives an account of an emotionally and intellectual deteriorated woman struggles to break free from a mental prison her husband had put her into, in order to find peace. The woman lived in a male dominated society and wanted indictment from it as she had been driven crazy, because of the Victorian “rest-cure” (Gilman 45). Her husband decided to force her to have a strict bed rest by separating her from her only child. He took her to recuperate in an isolated country estate all alone. The bed rest her husband forced into made her mental state develop from bad to worst. The Yellow Paper is a story that warns the readers about the consequences of fixed gender roles in a male-dominated world. In The Yellow Paper, a woman’s role was to be a dutiful wife and she should not question her husband’s authority and even whereabouts. Whereas, a man’s role was to be a husband, main decision maker, rational thinker and his authority was not to be questioned by the wife.
The narrator in The Yellow Paper was a mother and a wife who was trying to free herself from the prison her husband had put her into. She lived in a male-dominate world whereby she was to be a wife who never questioned her husband’s authority. She suffered from a severe postpartum depression case, yet her marriage depressed her too. The narrator was in a marriage whereby her husband dominated and treated her like a child. Her husband was the sole decision maker and since she lived in a society whereby women were never allowed to question their husband’s decision, she had nothing to do or say. Her husband confined her in her home, while he demanded a total bed rest from her as prescribed by the doctor, and she could not argue with him. She was forced to play the wife role of honoring and obeying her husband in everything as the society demanded. The confinement drove her into insanity, but her husband did not do anything because all he demanded from her was for her to obey him as the society demands. In addition, John kept her away from her child, and there was nothing the narrator could have done. The society demanded that, she should not argue with her husband and so, she was suffering but could do nothing about her suffering and being kept away from her child.
Charlotte Gilman in The Yellow Paper explores how rigid gender roles have negative influence on both men and women. John, the narrator’s husband was a respected doctor, but he is caught up in his wife’s situation and forced to exercise his duty as a man to confine her into bed rest. The society demanded that, as a man, his wife should not question him and that is why he never took his wife serious when she complained which led to her madness ultimately (Gilman 123). On the other hand, the narrator is represented as an...

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