“The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

“The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is the type of story that represents the suffering of all women of the world.

The story tells us how its narrator is suppressed by her husband and brother. Though they are trying to do good for her from their point of view. Medical science, also suppresses her, because of its views on women’s health in the Nineteenth century. Doctors keep her from doing the things she wants to do because they believe it is best for her to take a rest. She disagrees. “I believe that congenial work, with excitement and change, Would do me good.” (p. 801) The narrator tries to convince her husband that this sort of treatment is not working for her, but he does not pay attention and sends her to bed. This incident shows us that she does not know what is best for herself, even for her mental health. She has no idea why and what is happening, she just asks questions like “And what can one do?” or “But what does one do?”

Possibly the cause for her mental problems is in the fact that she is trying to prevent her emotions from coming out to escape discrimination. It was considered wrong for a woman to openly show her anger of discontent. She admits that sometimes she gets “unreasonably angry with John”. John tells her not to “neglect proper self control”.

So she is not allowed to express herself in speech nor in her writing, which I think she used as a release. I believe it is this inner-battle with doing what is considered proper and what she wants to do that slowly drives her crazy. The wallpaper and the figure behind it is symbolic of women’s suffrage. She says the figure is “like a woman stooping down and creeping about.” and “shakes the pattern as if she wanted to get out. On the last page she says, “I wonder if they all come out of that wallpaper as I did?” Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote “The Yellow Wallpaper” based on her depression experience, but she has managed to include the feelings of all women and their struggles.


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