Female Identity In Charlotte Perkins Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper

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The story of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” explores ideas of female freedom and identity, and more specifically, female liberation. Gilman presents her female characters as self-assertive in a positive manner; however, they also acknowledge that the journey for ideal feminine freedom, liberation, and selfhood in the oppressive environment of a patriarchal society is extremely difficult due to societal scrutiny, self-scrutiny, the entrapment of the convention of marriage, and other social establishments. Gilman utilizes specific literary tools, prominently symbolism and rich, vivid imagery to reveal the inner themes of female liberation, patriarchal oppression, and the female identity. In “The Yellow Wallpaper,” the narrator…show more content…
My brother is also of high standing, and he says the same thing. Personally I disagree with their ideas. Personally, I believe that congenial work, with excitement and change, would do me good. But what is one to do? (Gilman 1184) This immediately reveals to the audience that the narrator is oppressed by men; her husband’s and brother’s professional opinions are enough to silence her, and make her submissive to their…show more content…
The first time the narrator mentions the yellow wallpaper, she states “The color is repellant, almost revolting; a smouldering unclean yellow, strangely faded by the slow-turning sunlight… I should hate it myself if I had to live in this room long” (Gilman 1185). The color imagery within the passage mirrors the narrators mental state, sickly and ill. Little knowing that she would be prisoned in the room for long periods of time, the narrator slowly begins to see an “object behind” the wallpaper. She states, “I didn’t realize for a long time what the thing was that showed behind that dim sub-pattern but now I am quite sure it is a woman. By daylight she is subdued, quiet. It is the fancy pattern that keeps her so still. It keeps me quiet by the hour” (Gilman 1191). She also states that it seems as if the woman behind the wallpaper is entrapped by “bars,” revealing that the woman is in a prison of sorts; this woman behind the wallpaper symbolizes the narrator. Gilman employs the symbol of the wallpaper to show the lack of freedom the narrator has. Just as the wallpaper—with it’s imprisoning pattern— entraps her, so does her physician of a husband; he entraps her body and mind, restricting things such as writing, and even going outside of the

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