English 1101-0384

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  • The Yellow Wallpaper
  • #69703


    Many male readers felt offended when the short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman was published in 1892. In the 19th century when gender stereotyping was prominent, The Yellow Wallpaper” perfectly reflected the American society by then.

    After reading the story, I started to have an impression that John, the narrator’s husband had been dominating the narrator’s life in every aspect. Even though he was a physician with strong medical knowledge, he did not seem to understand what his wife was suffering from. While postpartum depression or psychosis is quite common in our society today which can easily be treated with medicines and therapy, in the story, John locked the narrator in a room forbidding her from her daily activities and completely isolating her from others. From this, I can see how mentally ill people were stigmatized and looked down upon by the society at that time.

    John was also treating the narrator as if she was a child by showing his authoritative figure. The writer expressed that by stating “Then he took me in his arms and called me a blessed little goose, and said he would go down cellar, if I wished” (649) and “What is it, little girl? he said. “Don’t go walking about like that – you’ll get cold.” (652). From those sentences, I figured how the the narrator was trapped under the influence of her husband who was abusing her psychologically.

    By reading the story literally, I would assume the narrator as a severely insane women who was hallucinating and acting in a very bizarre way. However, metaphorically, Charlotte represented the gender inequality of that time and how women were suppressed by their abusive husbands. She brought that up by writing “The faint figure behind seemed to shake the pattern, just as if she wanted to get out” (652) and “Then in the very bright spots she keeps still, and in the very shady spots she just takes wall off the bars and shakes them hard. And she is all the time trying to climb through” (654).

    Although many controversial criticisms were raised, “The Yellow Wallpaper” provided me with the perspective that it challenged the domestic lifestyle of women in that era and acted an advocate for the right of whole womankind in the last decade of 19th century.

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