The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman


TheYellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Oneof the main themes in The Yellow Wallpaper is feminism. It isa feminist story of a woman who is struggling in a society that isdominated by cultures and norms that favor men and treat women assecond class members. Feminism is a philosophy that assumes thatwomen have similar rights and ability as men, and should have accessto similar opportunities and choices. Feminisms in literary workhighlight the challenges faced by women in a male dominated societiesand how social norms affects women. Although the story is ambiguous,the characteristic of a largely patriarch society are very evidentthrough the story. The Yellow Wallpaper is a story of how aman, who can be considered to be an oppressive husband, causes miseryto his wife while trying to offer help. Irrespective of theintentions of the husband, due to the established social norms andprotocols in the male dominated society, his actions have devastatingimpacts on his wife (Gilman, 1892). Although the actions in the storymay look restrictive and inhuman against women, they were considerednormal in the past.

Beinga feminist writer, Gilman sought to express her displeasure with theway society treated women as unequal members of the society. ThroughThe Yellow Wallpaper and other short stories, she advocatednew social order which will give more opportunities to women andtreat them as equal human being. Based on this understanding, it iseasier to decipher the theme in The Yellow Wallpaper. Thestory line and literacy devices such as metaphors and phrases arewell structures to depict the lurid and creepy society that isdominated by oppression against women. The reference to the houses inthe story as ancestral hall and the gothic picture of theneighborhood that makes The Yellow Wallpaper look like a ghoststory suggest that the society in the story lived in the old ways oflife where women were treated as objects. Additionally, it emphasizesthe outdated practices against women in the society (Gilman, 1892).

InThe Yellow Wallpaper, the traditional role of women isdepicted. For example, they have limited access to educationindicated by the main character in the story stumbling on the word‘phosphates’. ‘Phosphates’ evokes scientific knowledge andwomen in The Yellow Wallpaper should not worry about them. This is because science is in the realm assigned to the male membersof the society. This depicts women as non technical and uneducated.The woman in the story is a Victorian woman whose place was in thekitchen rather than in the society. This is depicted by thedescription of the gardens in the compound as ‘delicious’(Gilman, 1892). The social norms and protocols have made women acceptthis position in the society as the woman seems to be fascinated bythe gardens. Additionally, despite her husband being oppressive, thewoman is naïve and remains faithful and obedient to him. Both herhusband and the doctor make her blame herself for a nervous disorderand unreasonable anger. She is unable to make decision on herself anddepends on her husband to make decisions on her behalf. The plot ofthe story as well as metaphors in The Yellow Wallpaper emphasizesthe challenges and oppression women go through in a male dominatedsociety. The story challenges the social norms and cultures thatundermine the position and role of women in the society.

Work Cited

Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. &quotThe Yellow Wallpaper&quot. TheNew England Magazine, (1892). Print.