The Following Essay Is An Analysis Of The Yellow Wallpaper, By Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Using Feminist Criticism.

3071 words - 12 pages

Feminist Reading of The Yellow WallpaperImages of women creeping around behind wallpaper that is yellow and grotesque, defiled by esoteric patterns with images of bulbous eyes and strangled heads sounds like either the work of a brilliant impressionist or the ravings of a lunatic. While the story may overtly appear to indicate the latter possibility, closer examination reveals that the wallpaper is not merely an obsession of a deranged woman, but a metaphor for a patriarchal culture that completely constrains women and limits their freedom.The narrator's credibility is first undermined when she says of her husband " John laughs at me, of course, but one expects that in marriage" (667). This line shows that not only does her husband not take her seriously, but that marital inequality is a normative occurrence. Her husband laughs at her desires and beliefs, but she feels she has no power to change her secondary status. " ... He scoffs openly at any talk of things not to be felt and seen and put down in figures" (667). The only thing that is palpable in society is male domination, and the facts and figures are also dominated by men. If John cannot see beyond the literal, to embrace faith in change, there is no reason for the narrator to believe that she can change his worldview, even though she disagrees with his ideas.The narrator is not permitted to write. Her physician husband insists that it is a detriment to her health. "I did write for a while in spite of them; but it does exhaust me a good deal - having to be so sly about it, or else meet with heavy opposition" (667). This indicates that the author has a desire to break free from the oppressive dictates of her husband, but overcoming oppressive ideologies can be terribly tiring, and the narrator just does not have the strength to fight at this point - she has been beaten down by the dictates of her husband, who is the quintessential representation of the American male. She admits that she wants to interact with others when she says "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 to think about my condition, and I confess it always makes me feel bad." The narrator not only is unable to break free from her husbands constraints, but her antithetical expectations actually make her feel culpable, guilt that is ruining her health and her mind. So, to maintain any kind of mental equilibrium, the narrator must ... "let it alone and talk about the house." Possible subversion turns to triviality, precluding the narrator from earning her freedom - at least for the moment.The narrator admits to being angry with John, but says " But John says if I feel so, I shall neglect proper self-control; so I take pains to control myself - before him, at least, and that makes me very tired" (668). Loss of control is what John fears. He knows it is imperative to keep her under control, mentally and physically, so that she...

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