Written in the first person, the short story, ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ by Charlotte Gilman was first published in 1892 with the story narrated by a female narrator with her name withheld throughout the story. According to the narrator, she is with her husband John, on vacation in a large house after the birth of their daughter during the summer (Gilman 1). Since the narrator is suffering from emotional behaviors, it seems from his husband and her doctor that she will recover from the illness after putting her in one room in the upstairs believed to have served as a nursery school where the narrator finds the busy yellow wallpaper. The narrator in the larger part of the story is struggling to overcome male chauvinism and attain her freedom and democracy in making personal choices regarding her life as opposed to a situation where men make decisions for her. The short story depicts significant differences and a few similarities between ‘American Identity’ and the identity of gender.
It is important examining the meaning of ‘American Identity’ before getting into details of the manner gender identity in the short story by Charlotte Gilman compares to the aspect. Since the founding of the United States in the 18th century, the citizens of the U.S have identified themselves by their shared values as well as a belief in individual freedom as opposed to racial, ethnicity, gender or religious aspects (Friedman). Therefore, by referring to ‘American Identity,’ it signifies capturing common values as well as belief in individual freedom across the American society irr...
espective of the origin or gender or any other factor that individual associates with. The phrase thus focuses on achieving a nation where every American citizen is provided with an equal opportunity and personal freedom. Therefore, the identity of Americans is driven by a desire of doing what they believe as just for all members of the society. It is for such reason that most Americans recognize the value of civil rights to attain the desired freedom and democracy.
A lot of episodes in the short story by Charlotte Gilman depict differences between the desired aspects of ‘American Identity’ based on the portrayal of relationships between genders. The narrator reveals her disagreement with John in the manner he treats her by giving strict regulations that she has to follow. For example, the prescribed treatment that she faces requires her to avoid everything but only rest in her room prohibiting her from working or even writing. The narrator’s description comprise of her real feelings towards the ideas of her husband and the description of the chamber. It is in the yellow wallpaper that the narrator believes she sees a woman stooping and held by bars prompting her to become obsessed with the woman (Gilman 4). In her attempts to peel off the wallpaper to free the woman, the narrator begins crawling around the room while she develops conviction that she is equally trapped. The manner the narrator is treated and controlled by her husband, and her doctor portrays a significant difference from what ‘American Identity’ aspires to achieve. The denial of freedom on the part
of the narrator serves as an indication that the life of the narrator deviates from the ‘American Identity.’ Another notable difference emanates from the fact that the narrator is disallowed from engaging in something of her choice, but rather her husband makers decisions for her. For example, “the treatment of the narrator requires her to participate in something active where she is forbidden from writing and working (Gilman 2).”
Other than only the differences between ‘American Identity’ and gender identity in ‘The Yellow Wallpaper,’ there is a similarity at the closing part of the story. When the narrator realizes that the sub-pattern in the yellow paper has a woman strapped in it, she tries to rescue the woman. In her attempts to peel off the wallpaper to free the woman, the narrator begins crawling around the room while she develops conviction that she is equally trapped (Gilman 9). As the narrator creeps through the walls, her husband comes to check on her and faints with horror. The narrator, however, continues to stoop around the room and eventually steps over John as she moves out of the room. The fact that the narrator eventually steps over John and moves out of the room where she has been trapped for long signifies attainment of freedom and individual rights. The ‘American Identity’ calls for sharing of values depicted by the existence of freedom and individual rights an indication that freeing of the narrator from the cage signifies a similarity with gender identity in the story. The aspect of ‘American Identity’ focuses on ensuring equality among both genders and the eventual escape of the narrator from her room serves in fulfilling that goal.
The author makes effective use of symbolism in portraying the differences between the text and the aspect of ‘American Identity’ and the similarity that is evidenced in the ending part of the story. The story is driven by the notion that the wallpaper is a symbolic representation that affects the narrator directly. Furthermore, the symbolism of the wallpaper is developed throughout the story. At the initial stage, the wallpaper is presented as a ripped, soiled and also unclean yellow paper. Again, the paper has a formless pattern that fascinates the narrator as she makes attempts of figuring out the organization of the pattern (Gilman 7). The narrator takes some hours staring at the paper and realizes a ghostly sub-pattern drawn behind the main pattern with its visibility only achieved when there is effective lighting. When the narrator manages to read the sub-pattern, she understands that it captures a desperate woman that constantly crawls and stops as she looks for an escape from the main pattern that resembles the bars of a cage. The sub-pattern and main pattern serve as a representation of the life of the narrator as she tries to free from subjection by her husband and the doctor. John and the doctor represent the main pattern while the sub-pattern represents the narrator. Eventually when the door of the cage where the narrator is held up, she escapes leaving her husband on the ground signifying attainment of freedom and individual rights on