Imprisonment In The Yellow Wallpaper

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Domestic Imprisonment in The Yellow Wallpaper The Yellow Wallpaper is an epistolary short story written in 1892 using conventions of the psychological Gothic horror to critique the position of women in the domestic circle within a Victorian society by prominent American feminist and social reformer Charlotte Perkins Gilman who lived from 1860 to 1935. This work of fiction is regarded as an important early work of American feminist literature, illustrating attitudes in the 19th century towards women’s health, both physical and mental. In this essay, I will be discussing the portrayal of imprisonment within the domestic sphere in The Yellow Wallpaper with close commentary on space and setting primarily, as well as supporting references to other…show more content…
The protagonist of The Yellow Wallpaper anthropomorphizes the floral elements of the yellow wallpaper, wherein wallpaper is typically a feminine floral decoration on wall interiors. These elements signify the scrutiny Victorian society makes of lives of its womenfolk, particularly of women who are creative and insubordinate to their spouses. The protagonist is one such woman; her writing denounces her imaginative character and the surreptitious persistence of her writing denounces her matrimonial and feminine disobedience which were considered radical in her contemporary society. Gilman expresses the suppression felt by women from societal scrutiny to be one of “strangling”, through the narrator, who in one instance describes the wallpaper pattern like so: “it strangles so; I think that is why it has so many heads… the pattern strangles them off and turns them upside down, and makes their eyes white!” Her anthropomorphizing of the pattern of the wallpaper adopts a grimmer facet when she writes that “when you follow the lame uncertain curves for a little distance they suddenly commit suicide.” It is also significant to note that the narrator describes the pattern as suicidal because it again emphasizes the narrator’s desperate, almost suicidal, need to flee the imprisonment of the nursery and from the oppressive, male-dominant society that the room and its wallpaper represent. Asides of the pattern, there are many probable connotations of the yellow colour of the wallpaper, for instance with jaundiced illness, and also the rigid oppression of masculine sun. While sickness can be associated with the colour yellow, its more established motif would seem be the conflict between the masculine sun and the feminine moon. In Gilman’s story, sunlight is linked with John’s
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