The Yellow Wallpaper And Its Gender Roles Msu Essay

989 words - 4 pages

“The Yellow Wallpaper,” a tale of one woman’s descent into madness, is Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s response to the male-run medical establishment and the patriarchal structure of the nineteenth-century household. Gilman’s short story is a warning to her readers about the consequences of fixed gender roles assigned by male-dominated societies: the man’s role being that of the husband and rational thinker, and the woman’s role being that of the dutiful wife who does not question her husband’s authority. In “The Yellow Wallpaper,” Gilman depicts a marriage in which both the narrator and her husband are trapped in their assigned roles and are doomed because of this.
The story focuses on the narrator’s “nervous condition” as she slowly loses sense of reality, the whole time being totally misunderstood and misdiagnosed by her husband, a doctor who is unable to understand a woman’s psyche and who believes the best treatment is for her to confine herself to her room and rest. The narrator says, “If a physician of high standing, and one’s own husband, assures friends and relatives that there is really nothing the matter with one but temporary nervous depression—a slight hysterical tendency—what is one to do?” (3). Reading “The Yellow Wallpaper” in historical context, Jane Thrailkill points out that the nineteenth-century medical establishment did not understand how to deal with women’s mental health issues, often misdiagnosing a whole host of disorders as female hysteria (545). Thraikill explains that physicians employed the “rest cure” as a way to regain control over a situation they did not comprehend. The narrator’s “nervous condition” is not hysteria but, rather, probably the result of having recently given birth. Contemporary medicine did not know what postpartum psychosis was, but that is clearly what the narrator is suffering from, as is evident in the passage in which she remarks, “It is fortunate Mary is so good with the baby. Such a dear baby! And yet I cannot be with him, it makes me so nervous” (6). Thraikill claims that Gilman’s push to raise awareness about misdiagnoses of women’s mental health problems stems from the frustration she felt about her own treatment by Dr. Weir Mitchell when Gilman herself was diagnosed with a “nervous condition,” one of the most obvious cases of a doctor disregarding a patient’s words (540). In “The Yellow Wallpaper,” Gilman is showing her readers that the male doctors were not listening to their female patients.
It is these patronizing attitudes that Gilman is fighting against, and she does so by illustrating the ways that rigid gender roles have a negative effect on both women and men. John, the narrator’s husband, is represented as the rational, respected doctor who is always taken seriously. The narrator, on the other hand, is represented as overemotional; she is not to be taken seriously. Rather than being described as rational, she is...

Find Another Essay On the yellow wallpaper and its gender roles - msu - essay

Gender Roles in The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

2273 words - 10 pages In “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, the narrator and her husband John can be seen as strong representations of the effects society’s stereotypical gender roles as the dominant male and submissive female have within a marriage. Because John’s wife takes on the role as the submissive female, John essentially controlled all aspects of his wife’s life, resulting in the failure of the couple to properly communicate and

Gender Roles in The Yellow Wallpaper and A Streetcar Named Desire

1534 words - 6 pages commentary on the gender roles of masculinity and femininity as a whole, including the two different portrayals of masculinity and how femininity was still generally looked down upon by American society in the late 1940s, unfortunately noting that not much had changed in the time between the stories passed. Works Cited Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. "The Yellow Wallpaper." The Norton Anthology of American Literature. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2007. 1684-1695. Williams, Tennessee. "A Streetcar Named Desire." The Norton Anthology of American Literature. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2007. 2337-2398.

Women's Roles in The Yellow Wallpaper and The Withered Arm

1116 words - 4 pages Women's Roles in The Yellow Wallpaper and The Withered Arm In the late 19th century, women were expected to conform to the conventions of society. This meant that they were expected to get married young, pure and beautiful. They were treated like objects as if men bought them. How the woman felt was irrelevant in this period. Women were expected to produce an 'heir and a spare'. Women were also victim to double standards. For example

Gender as Portrayed in “The Yellow Wallpaper”

1419 words - 6 pages his ability to help his wife and prevent her from slipping into insanity. The Conventional nineteenth-century middle-class marriage, with its rigid distinction between the confining gender roles for men and women, only ensured that women would be ignorant and submissive as a second-class citizen (“Sparknotes”). The story, “The Yellow Wallpaper,” demonstrates the attitude towards women’s physical and mental health in the nineteenth century with

Gender Insanity in Barbie Doll, Ken Doll, and The Yellow Wallpaper

836 words - 4 pages , and The Yellow Wallpaper. These three pieces of literature with gender stereotype, made the main character go into insanity. Marge Piercy wrote the Barbie Doll poem in 1973, during the woman’s movement. The title of the poem Barbie Doll, symbolizes how females are supposed to appear into the society. In the poem Barbie Doll, the main character was a girl. She was described as a usual child when she was born. Meaning that she had normal

The Evolution of Gender Roles and its Role in Society

1996 words - 8 pages When thinking of gender roles in society, stereotypes generally come to mind. Throughout history these stereotypes have only proven to be true. Major historical events have had a huge impact on the way men and women are seen and treated. In this way, women have always been secondary to males and seen as the fragile counterparts whose job is to take care of the household and most importantly, be loyal to her husband no matter the circumstance

The oppressed majority: A look At Gender Inequality In The Yellow Wallpaper

929 words - 4 pages Charlotte Perkins Gilman brings to light the inequalities of patriarchal society and marital inequality in the 19th century via her short story “The Yellow Wallpaper.” First published in 1892, “The Yellow Wallpaper” was written and takes place in a time when marriage was acceptably unequal and gender roles were clearly defined. Now it is regarded as a literary masterpiece in feminist ideology. The story was written as a series of journal

How gender criticism is displayed in Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper"

1368 words - 5 pages (Gioia, Gwynn, 895). Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper" tells the story about a delusional woman that tumbles into insanity as a result of the reflection she sees in this wallpaper. One perception of the wallpaper is that she sees a reflection of herself within the walls, trapped, and desperately she tries to free herself. More importantly, the story is about attacking the roles of women in society. The narrator can generally represent

ine symbolism. Discuss its use to develop character and/or theme in "Where are you going,Where have you been?" and "The Yellow Wallpaper."

899 words - 4 pages components of the story to accumulate abstract meaning. Two stories that make great use of this technique are "Where are you going, Where have you been?" and "The Yellow Wallpaper." Both use it to not only tell the story, but to enhance it.In "Where are you going, Where have you been?" one element that is pervasively present is music. The narrator even takes note of this, stating "The music was always in the background, like music in a church

"The Yellow Wallpaper" Essay

1150 words - 5 pages Looking back at women's role in society, women in the 1800s were usually portrayed as inferior and submissive to their husbands. "The Yellow Wallpaper," written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, is a short story about a woman who is psychologically ill and her husband's treatment of her. The story opens up with the family moving into a summer home to cure the narrator's illness. The story presents itself to the reader with the idea that the house is

Macbeth and The Yellow Wallpaper - Comparative Essay

526 words - 3 pages Power emanates from position or authority, which can influence people both positively and negatively. The type of power pursued by an individual depends on their true intentions and various measures of control they exert. In William Shakespeare’s play ‘Macbeth’ and Charlotte Perkins Stetson’s short story ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’, gender power is exemplified, demonstrating the limited power of females in society. However, their different distinct

Similar Essays

Gender Roles “The Yellow Wallpaper”

831 words - 4 pages Charlotte Perkins Gilman in “The Yellow Wallpaper” explores gender roles that hint at the complications of this short story. “John laughs at me, of course” shows the insight into a largely known problem in human societies and relationships. The fictional short story shows the chilling nonfictional concerns of gender subordination in present times. One is shown in a series of events the challenges of a woman, the narrator, living in a male

Gender Roles In The Yellow Wallpaper

1467 words - 6 pages Gender Roles in The Yellow Wallpaper         In Charlotte Perkins Gilman's short story "The Yellow Wallpaper," the reader is treated to an intimate portrait of developing insanity. At the same time, the story's first person narrator provides insight into the social attitudes of the story's late Victorian time period. The story sets up a sense of gradually increasing distrust between the narrator and her husband, John, a doctor, which

Gender Roles In The Yellow Wallpaper

1490 words - 6 pages 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

The Influence Of Masculine Gender Roles In "The Yellow Wallpaper"

2047 words - 8 pages of the need for such display was increasing" (Furumota). It is within this context that "The Yellow Wallpaper" takes place: a young America in which man takes risks, is confident, shines in sciences and politics, and has judgment. Woman is the modest wife and responsible housekeeper, born to please her husband and family. It was during this period that many women began to question their roles in society, which explains Gilman's deep