Feminism In Charlotte Perkins Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper

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Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper is a story about a woman’s struggle to be heard in a society working against her. The narrator has been diagnosed with “nervous depression” (648), and her physician husband decides to take her to a mansion to help her recover; her recovery also involves not participating in any activity that might stimulate her mind, like writing. The narrator describes the house as having “hedges and walls and gates that lock” (648), and the room she has to stay in has bars on the windows, almost like a prison. The narrator also points out the hideous wallpaper, and makes many references to it throughout the story. This wallpaper symbolizes much more than horrid design; it is a symbol of the narrator’s, and other…show more content…
Feminism, as it relates to this story, is about women being treated equally as men, being free to express themselves, and being taken seriously. The Yellow Wallpaper acts as a window into the life of a victim of oppression. The narrator’s thoughts, feelings, and needs are constantly written off as silly and less important when compared to her husband’s. This is demonstrated on page 652 when the narrator is begging her husband to take her away from the mansion because of how unhappy it makes her, but he says, “The repairs are not done at home, and I cannot possibly leave town just now,” and that she’s not “in any danger.” John has just proven that he doesn’t see his wife’s needs or her illness as authentic or important; he is more concerned about himself and materialistic things than his wife. The fact that the narrator cannot leave her room, let alone the mansion, demonstrates John’s control over her, her lack of freedom, and the importance of power when dealing with inequality. John has been given all of the power in the relationship; so the narrator is not allowed to do, think, or speak as she pleases, and she is not taken seriously by her husband. Because the narrator lacks power in her relationship, and in society, she lives a life of imprisonment and
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