Summary: The Yellow Wallpaper

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Anna Arrese ENGL 2213 Gantz January 29th, 2015 The Yellow Wallpaper Written in 1892, “The Yellow Wallpaper” is often described as a feminist critique of the socially acceptable roles women had in late nineteenth century society. Although this story demonstrates many traditional gothic styles, the underlying theme holds a feeling of repression, and frequently exemplifies freedom. Throughout the story, Gilman recognizes several roles for women that serve to reaffirm the domination of males within society even as they restrict the growth of women. In the case of this story, Gilman places the women in impossible conditions in which madness or flight is the only possible courses of action. The woman in the story goes crazy because her position…show more content…
Gilman clarifies on the first page the narrator’s feminist opposition when she states, “John laughs at me, of course, but one expects that in marriage” (Gilman, 238). This passage describes the woman’s attitude towards her place in her marriage as well as in society. The woman’s resignation also works to ‘put her in her place’ in the male-controlled society. After briefly explaining she is sick her husband does not believe the social restrictions of women, she concedes by saying, “And what can one do? (Gilman, 238). This gives the impression of being worn down from trying to overcome the typical stereotypes of women and knowing it would be a difficult task to change the views. A few paragraphs later, she again gives in to her peers, after expressing difference with her husband’s methods. She stated, “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, 238). By demonstrating the woman’s disagreement, the narrator’s humble submission to her situation allows the masculine reader to assume she was normal for that era. Gilman uses the woman’s compliance as a background for delicate feminist observations, which she inserts carefully and liberally throughout the…show more content…
Gilman, of course, does not let this stand, and adds that she “hopes for no better profession” (Gilman, 242). A present reader cannot note the sarcasm informing the presence of more worthwhile professions than housekeeping. Since the woman is too submissive to complain precisely about these aspects of her behavior, Gilman mentions them so regularly that they are difficult to overlook. With this method of writing, she gives the reader a constant reminder that the woman does not agree with the social norms of the female lifestyle. With the narrator being a woman, her thoughts are not valued at all, while those of her husband are taken as absolute fact. Not only is this an analysis in itself of the theme of the story, but also Gilman emphasizes the point by showing that the ideas of a woman and wife are important and in fact are just as valid as those of a man. She gives life to the idea that women should be respected and treated as equals to men while also allowing the reader to identify with how the women of that time might have felt about their strict roles in life during that

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