The Yellow Wallpaperpsychology Essay Example
The Yellow Wallpaperpsychology Essay Example

The Yellow Wallpaperpsychology Essay Example

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  • Pages: 4 (1025 words)
  • Published: October 30, 2017
  • Type: Analysis
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Symbolism is employed in "The Yellow Wallpaper" to emphasize the constraints that women faced during the 19th century, such as limited employment choices, a lack of voting rights, and restricted ability to voice opinions on societal issues.

In the 19th century, women faced several limitations on their rights. They were not allowed to speak publicly or give testimony in court. Moreover, upon marriage, a woman's assets and children became the property of her husband and she was only entitled to one-third of his estate upon his death. Charlotte Perkins Gilman aimed to bring attention to these inequities and push for reforms.

The author of The Yellow Wallpaper attempts to convey the message of restrictions on women, lack of public interaction, struggle for equality, and possibilities of the female sex in the 1800s through her use of various symbols in the story. The yell


ow wallpaper is a significant symbol in the story that represents many things about the narrator and her mental block caused by societal oppression on women during that era.

In the story, the narrator's mysterious illness serves as an example of male oppression. The color yellow is often associated with sickness or weakness, and the yellow wallpaper progressively makes the narrator feel more "sick." The wallpaper itself is described as "hideous," "unreliable," and "infuriating," serving as a symbol of the mental screen that men tried to impose on women. According to Gilman, the pattern is "torturing," representing the restrictions placed on women as a symbolic metaphor.

According to the writer, men's refusal to acknowledge women's equality is a repulsive act and any semblance of parity they offer is often untrustworthy. The terms "exasperating" and "agonizing" reflect

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the emotions experienced by females in the 19th century. The narrator's seclusion from public life symbolizes women's ostracism from society during that era; they were required to stay home and manage household duties while remaining unseen by others. Women had no role in politics, employment, or society as a whole.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman highlights the theme of housekeeping and restriction in the story. The protagonist is prohibited by her husband and brother from engaging in any intellectual or independent activities with the public, which is represented by the word "work" used in parentheses by the author.

In the 1800s, any woman seen alone in public was viewed as a harlot regardless of her purpose. In the writer's opinion, engaging in exciting and varied work would be beneficial. Gilman advocates for women's equality and suffrage, utilizing symbols in her story to highlight their struggle for parity and portraying it as a challenging journey.

In this text, the writer recounts a time when she accompanied her husband John, a physician, to a summer house while feeling unwell. Despite her own sense of illness, her brother and John assured her that it was all in her head, which serves as a representation of the struggles endured by women in the 1800s who sought equality but were ignored and oppressed by men. The author also reflects on how having more social interaction and encouragement may have helped with her condition, although according to John, focusing on her illness is the worst thing she could do – a thought that always leaves her feeling upset.

The author discusses the resistance of men towards equality and how this relates to women's suffrage

aspirations. The statement "But John says the very worst thing I can do is to think about my condition" highlights how men oppress women who attempt to break free from societal restrictions and enforce the idea of female inferiority, almost brainwashing them. This "brainwashing" is reflected in the statement "I confess it always makes me feel bad." Some women have been raised with the belief that they are inferior to men and have accepted it.

The narrator in the story experiences a situation where women who opposed women’s suffrage believed that men were superior and that women belonged in a lower position. Charlotte Perkins Gilman wanted women to recognize their unlimited potential. The female possibilities were illustrated in the story through the writer's description of two windows and their views, demonstrating how men during the 19th and 20th centuries had restricted and constrained these possibilities. The first view from the window depicts a garden, containing thick-shaded arbors, overgrown old-fashioned flowers, bushes, and gnarly trees.

The use of the garden as a symbol for society implies that women are unaware of their untapped potential, as represented by the word "mysterious." A beautiful view of the bay and a private wharf belonging to an estate also serve as metaphors for unexplored territory and societal barriers inhibiting women. Observing people walking along various paths and arbors signifies women recognizing their capabilities and potential in performing tasks associated with men. However, the male opinion that women should not engage in such tasks due to its perceived ridiculousness is clearly expressed when John cautions against fanciful thoughts.

In John's description of the writer's "nervous weakness," we see the addition

of an idea that aligns with the prevailing attitude of men towards women in that time, which was that they were weak and delicate. Charlotte Gilman utilizes a range of symbols throughout her story, "The Yellow Wallpaper," to demonstrate the oppression of women by men and their ongoing struggle for liberation. Among these, three key symbols stand out as offering the greatest support to this theme. The yellow wallpaper is an emblem of the mental constraints that men imposed on women during the 1800s. The color yellow is often associated with illness or fragility, which represents the ongoing oppression and struggles that women continue to face today.

In "The Yellow Wallpaper," Gilman presents the idea that women have the same potential as men, but in the 19th century, their opportunities were limited. This message is conveyed through the portrayal of two windows and the activities observed from each. The protagonist recognizes that she could perform the same actions as others, just as women observed men doing tasks they were capable of. Overall, the story serves as a commentary on the oppression of women by men.

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