The Woman Behind The Wallpaper

1942 words - 8 pages

Andrew S. MachadoENG_2150, HMWC [52359]Paper 1, Literary Analysis11/12/2014The Woman Hiding Behind the Pattern:Finding oneself under the rule of SocietyAll over the world-women are kept in their places by hegemonic forces. More precisely, women are confined by patriarchal expectations of women in society and culture. For years women have been struggling to find greater freedom and power. They struggle with the battle between who a woman believes she is and the rule of what society expects her to be. Within the context of Thoreau, the rule, or the machine, involves the predetermined cultural expectations placed on women. In Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper", the friction of the machine is the confusion women develop when striving to meet those unrealistic expectations. A necessary friction of the machine that if not complied with in its entirety, leads a woman towards the brink of insanity. The narrator finds herself traveling down this path and begins to take actions outside of what society expects. Jane clearly rebels against the rule of the machine causing a counter-friction that frees her from the rule of the machine. The narrator effectively breaks from the expectations of society and begins to discover herself, her true identity.The setting of Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper" immediately establishes the hegemonic view of the machine and how logic and reason undermine any potential for emotional expression or fulfillment. Early in the text, Jane describes the country retreat to which her husband has taken her as "A colonial mansion, a hereditary estate, I would say a haunted house and reach the height of romantic felicity-but that would be asking too much of fate!" (Gilman, 172). A colonial mansion is built by man and considered the height of grand living. A mansion embodies success and is a logical abode for the ruling class. The mansion suggests a grand idea created by man that acts as a symbol of power and prosperity. This architecture is similar to the grand idea that is forced upon women which governs how they should behave, how they should look, and what is expected of them. As "A hereditary estate" is passed on from generation to generation, a "machine" of identity and lineage is passed on in similar fashion. No person can be sure of when it was created or when it will end because the idea has been almost perpetually present. It is the way it has always been for generations. "I would say a haunted house…," referring to the mansion, suggests the mansion is something of a superstition. In the framework of the mansion being a grand idea, a superstition suggests that the ruling class which created the idea did so without any natural process signifying the idea is a complete fabrication of the ruling class. A haunted house clearly illustrates the creation of the idea with no regard to natural processes. "…And reach the height of romantic felicity," which can be linked to emotion and illogical fanciful ideas of...

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