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The Different Perspectives On Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper"

1704 words - 7 pages

Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper" serves as a semi-autobiographical short story that deals with the struggles of postpartum psychosis and its' repercussions as witnessed through the story's unnamed female narrator. By analyzing, Gilman’s approach to exploring the concept of social conventions and patriarchal oppression. Gilman's story can be analyzed in depth as both being an anti-feminist and feminist piece of literature. These aspects include the narrator's husband treatment towards her individuality, her fascination with the yellow wallpaper and her eventual fulfillment of independence.
At the beginning of the story, readers are introduced to the narrator who is ...view middle of the document...

Essentially, this exhibits that John's refusal of submitting to the narrator's requests dictates his maintenance of superiority over the narrator's health and emotions. Similarly, the fact that the narrator has to reside in a nursery room only further enforces her belittlement as a child in the relationship. Furthermore, the extent of John’s control even goes so far as administering the narrator's movements: "What is it, little girl? Don't go walking about like that - you'll get cold" (603). Effectively, this reveals that John patronizes his wife in accordance for her well-being. Yet his approach only worsens the narrator's condition duration the story. As he continually patronizes her, it simultaneously oppresses and reduces her sense of self to a degree where she has no control in even the smallest details of her life.
The effects of subordination causes the narrator to lose confidence in herself as well as develop a fear towards John’s disapproval as she declares “it is so hard to talk with John about my case, because he is so wise… but I tried it last night”. As the narrator tries to explain her worsening condition, he only “looked at [her] with such a stern, reproachful look that [she] could not say another word”, this reveals that the narrator is afraid of being verbally attacked and criticized by John’s words. This severely damages her confidence level to the extent where she feels incapable of expressing her concerns with John without having to worry and fear about his condescending remarks which subsequently deteriorates her self-worth. Additionally, her self-worth is further appropriated from her as John prescribes the rest cure in accordance to her illness. Accordingly, the narrator is “absolutely forbidden to “work” until [she] is well again” (598). Fundamentally, John has completely stripped away the narrator’s right to self-expression in which he believes that any mind stimulating activities will only worsen the narrator’s condition: “There comes John, and I must put [my journal] away – he hates to have write a word” (599). Hence, this shows that John not only subordinates the narrator’s confidence level but has also taken away her rights to expressing herself in any personal manner.
For these reasons, this reveals that the society's gender division confines the narrator into a child-like state. Substantially, John is considered to be a patronizing father figure that conducts every detail of the narrator’s life through which her self-freedom is appropriated from her. In general, these social roles oppressed women from experiencing the liberty to create an individual life for themselves without the hindrance of societal pressures. In relation to the narrator, these social constrictions trap her which eventually influences the narrator’s condition to worsen as the story unfolds.

Initially, the narrator recognizes that she is suffering from a severe case of depression. Even so, her husband diagnoses her with a “temporary...

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