Charlotte a mother only. However, on the opposite

Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s story, “The Yellow Wallpaper” was written during a controversial time, with a hope for great change. In the early-to-mid-nineteenth century, the main title that an American middle-class woman seemed to uphold, was either the domestic or even spiritual leaders of their homes. It was decided to women during this time, that women were to solely stay in their homes and carry out her roles of being a wife and a mother only. However, on the opposite end of the spectrum, men would succeed in public settings, like work and politics. Women were not seen in the nineteenth century as they are seen now. Women were mostly seen as the weaker, less powerful or even knowledgeable sex.

Women would always have to listen to their husband, no matter what they might think they know. Readers are reminded of this way of living every time we read works from women like Charlotte Perkins Gilman. In the article, “Why I Wrote the Yellow Wallpaper” by Gilman, she says: For many years I suffered from a severe and continuous nervous breakdown tending to melancholia—and beyond. During about the third year of this trouble I went, in devout faith and some faint stir of hope, to a noted specialist in nervous diseases, the best known in the country. This wise man put me to bed and applied the rest cure, to which a still good physique responded so promptly that he concluded that there was nothing much the matter with me and sent me home with solemn advice to ‘live as domestic a life as possible,’ to ‘have but two hours’ intelligent life a day,’ and ‘never to touch pen, brush or pencil again as long as I lived.

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‘ This was in 1887…Charlotte Perkins Gilman described to us her direct feelings and experiences to tell people what was happening to her and probably tons more women around the world. Without realizing it, Gilman used her platform to help a change happen within society. “The Yellow Wallpaper,” was firstly introduced into the world in January 1982, that closely studies Gilman’s depression and anxiousness.

Like in the story, Gilman in her real life visited a doctor that restricts women from anything that may bring a toll on the mind like thinking or reading. Beyond being a study of postpartum depression, it was also a story of feminism, and the varied roles for women. Whether that be stuck in the home or trying to break from how society thinks a woman should act. Mid way through the century, glimpses of women’s rights were being seen. The concept “The New Woman” even came about, revealing how women wanted to fight for equal rights and show off their minds and skills outside of the home. In Gilman’s work of nonfiction, Women and Economics (1898), Gilman advocates for women and states how she too feels that women should be able to work alongside men and be financially independent from them. With that being said, Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s purpose for writing “The Yellow Wallpaper,” was to not only express her experiences during this time period, but to also reveal to readers that women do have rights, and this is a forever changing world, that should allow women to know that even though a man says it’s so, doesn’t always make it right.

You can see this is clearly evident when the narrator symbolically sees herself trapped inside the wallpaper and her eventually pulling the wallpaper off the wall and being able to feel free to do whatever she wants. There are several instances throughout this story that show how Johns initially see the narrator. One, being that his wife is less than him. You can see this when the narrator forbids her to work until she is well again. During this time, John treats his wife like a child who cannot do anything for herself and like a parent continues to demand things of her. She must tip-toe around John hoping she doesn’t hurt his ego. John tells her when to sleep, eat, lie down, and as a result also feels as though she cannot ever irritate her husband.

Taking place all in the beginning of the novel, because the narrator was so willing to conform to John’s wishes or any man really, she was not able to stand up for herself, challenge her husband, and get the help that she really needed. The narrator says, “It is so hard to talk with John about my case, because he is so wise, and because he loves me so” (Gilman). Being a woman, she naturally believes that John knows best. Because of a fixed gender role mindset, the narrator’s condition worsens because they both believe and are set in the ways of society. However, you can see the continuous fight from wanting to get out of John’s hold on her.

“I’ve got out at last in spite of you and Jane and I’ve pulled off most of the paper, so you can’t put me back” (77). Just like the experiences of the narrator, Gilman in her daily life tried to pull off what society thinks of how a woman should act, and advocate for it never going back those ways again. Without asking, women were placed into a box, feeling as if their lives lacked something important. Gilman was able to express her experiences and emotions, and in doing so, she paved the way for oppression of women to be addressed and for society as a whole to fix the issue for the betterment of women.


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