How The Yellow Wallpaper Controlled Women

871 Words4 Pages

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is a short story written in 1892. The story is centered around a woman who faces societal expectations, and how men controlled women’s decisions simply because men were superior at the time. “The Yellow Wallpaper”, Charlotte Perkins Gilman demonstrates how the lack of self-determination can have a negative impact on mental health by showing how men controlled women’s decisions through the use of narration and imagery. Initially, the protagonist is portrayed as a woman who suffers from postpartum depression or a “nervous condition.” She spends her summer in a mansion, where she stays in the nursery room for the majority of the summer. Her husband, a physician, believes that rest is the best way …show more content…

He believes that writing wouldn’t benefit her well-being, but instead, he forces her to rest in the nursery room with nothing to do, but stare at the nursery wallpaper. The protagonist believes that, “if I had less opposition and more society and stimulus--but John says the very worst thing I can do is to think about my condition, and I confess it always makes me feel bad.” This clarifies that she is aware of what would help her "condition," specifically, freedom. She desires social stimulation, respect, and the capability to engage in conversation with others. She wants to be able to make decisions for herself, but John believes she should stop thinking about her condition, because doing so will only complicate things. Two weeks later, she’s still in the nursery room, and the protagonist starts to write in her journal about how depressed she …show more content…

She writes in her journal describing the wallpaper, “The color is repellent, almost revolting; a smoldering unclean yellow, strangely faded by the slow-turning sunlight.” Gilman introduces the yellow wallpaper, which serves as the story's primary focus. The yellow wallpaper reflects the idea of the patriarchal society, which they view women as weak. The yellow wallpaper also symbolizes both the protagonist's internal conflict with herself as well as her external conflict with society's expectations of what it means to be a woman. As the story progresses, she becomes more obsessed with the wallpaper, spending her days staring at it trying to make sense of the patterns and designs. She writes in her journal, “At night in any kind of light, in twilight, candle light, lamplight, and worst of all by moonlight, it becomes bars! The outside pattern I mean, and the woman behind it is as plain as can be.” The protagonist starts describing how the wallpaper’s pattern changes at night, specifically in different types of lights, and how the figure of the woman trapped behind bars is more clear and distinct. This symbolizes how women were confined by societal expectations. Not only that, but shows her mental health becomes increasingly

Open Document