Gender Roles In The Yellow Wallpaper

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During the nineteenth century, gender roles became more sharply defined. Women were considered physically and emotionally weaker than men, which gave men the need to control and direct their way of life. In Sweat, by Zora Neale Hurston, and in The Yellow Wallpaper, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, the social ideology of the image of women and dynamics of male authority in the family greatly affected the actions and self-image of the main characters in both stories. The character, Delia Jones, in Sweat and the unnamed female narrator in The Yellow Wallpaper are influenced by what their societies deemed the proper roles and behaviors a married woman should do and have. By comparing the character of the women in The Yellow Wallpaper and Sweat, we…show more content…
He believed that because of his superiority, he had the right to control his wife’s life and do what he considered best for her with no consideration for her feelings. In previous centuries, men were believed to be the voice of reason who knew what was best for everyone regardless of what others wanted or needed. As a woman who knows that she is sick, her opinions and feelings are ignored by her husband, a practicing physician, who “does not believe that I am sick! And what can one do?” (Gilman 548). The woman gives up trying to convince her husband that she is sick giving in to his authority and sense of superiority entwining her further into the social norms and gender roles dictated by society. In fact, there are instances throughout The Yellow Wallpaper where the woman gives up her rights and wants to the authority of her husband because both think that, since he is a man, he is right “I don’t like our room a bit. I wanted one downstairs that opened onto the piazza and had roses all over the window, and such pretty old-fashioned chintz hangings! But John would not hear of it” (Gilman 549). The woman in The Yellow Wallpaper gave up trying to convince her husband that she did not want to stay in the room with the yellow wallpaper further giving into the social ideology of the…show more content…
We can see the narrator’s weakness throughout the story. It is especially apparent in her narration where she uses phrases like, ‘John says’ which “heads a litany of "benevolent" prescriptions that keep the narrator infantilized, immobilized, and bored literally out of her mind” (Lasner 418). The significance of positions in society greatly influences the woman in this story. She withholds challenging anything her husband says, regardless of how miserable she feels rendering her weak. He makes her stay in a room that she does not like, refuses to let her visit relations, and prevents her from doing the thing she loves the most, which is writing. Even in instances where she tries to speak up for herself and explain her needs and wants, her husband suppresses them “Why, darling! he said, ‘Our lease will be up in three weeks, and I can’t see how to leave before” (Gilman 554). He refused to acknowledge that she was not feeling better by being in that house and refused to let her leave. His thinking that he knows his wife's emotions and thoughts better than she does adds to his sense of
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