The Yellow Wallpaper

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During the 19th century, women had minimal rights and were treated as property of men, their purpose mainly for domestic activities and chores. In the short story, “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, she suggests that women in the 19th century could develop psychological issues due to gender oppression and a male-centric society. She achieves this through the use of setting, character, and symbolism. Societal and systematic oppression during this time period greatly affects the narrator. In the 19th century, women were admitted into mental institutions for “behaving in ways that male society did not agree with” (Pouba 95). Many did not really have any mental health issues, but instead suffered from intense pre-menstrual symptoms…show more content…
According to the narrator, this room had been a nursery first, then a playroom and/or gymnasium for children. The pictures the readers can imagine from the room are “suggestive of the atmosphere of a mental asylum where a patient is forcibly confined” (Rao 40). The fact that John convinced the narrator that this room had once been a nursery, shows the idea that women were perceived as childish and naïve. She did not second guess why the windows were barred, she simply thought it was for the children’s safety (Gilman 239). The barred windows represent her, along with most other women’s limited opportunity in a male dominated society. Beds usually symbolize sex or sexual activity and by acknowledging that this bed was bolted down, it exemplifies that the female sexuality was restricted and that only men were able to be sexual. The bite marks express the psychotic and manic mind of the narrator. The unnatural and almost animalistic behavior of biting furniture supports the idea that even though she did not cause it, she is still developing some kind of psychosis that she did not originally have. “The paper is striped in great patches all around the head of my bed, about as far as I can reach…” (Gilman 239) showing that this was not a nursery at all, but a mentally ill person’s old room. He or she must have done that to…show more content…
“How it grows with changing nuances to serve the author's purpose” (Rao 39) explaining that she was not originally mentally unstable and that the wallpaper worsened her condition. She starts off hating the wallpaper, “I should hate it myself if I had to live in this room long,” (Gilman 240) but eventually grows into it both figuratively and mentally. Not only was the color of the wallpaper “repellent, almost revolting,” (Gilman 240) but the color yellow also represents sickness or weakness, in which the narrator believed deeply that she was sick in the very beginning because most women in those days, when they had slight mannerisms of emotion or sensitivity, were considered insane or mentally unstable. Women were supposedly weak and that is why they lived under that oppression every day. The pattern of the wallpaper bends and twists and moves freely, unlike the narrator’s position, where she is stuck in the room. Throughout the story, she almost becomes jealous of the free motion that the paper obtains and she does not have. “I get positively angry with the impertinence of [the patterns] and the everlastingness” (Gilman 241). She wishes her mind could be independent but she is repressed by her husband, John. “This paper looks to me as if it knew what a vicious influence it had!” (Gilman 241), by personifying the wallpaper, she shows

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