Symbolism In 'The Yellow Wallpaper'

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In “The Yellow Wallpaper”, Charlotte Gilman critiques the restrictive nature of patriarchal society through the bars in the female narrator’s bedroom window that represent her relationship with her husband. As the narrator’s mental health deteriorates near the end of the story, she recognizes that the bars on her window physically confine her to her room. She states that “To jump out of the window would be admirable exercise, but the bars are too strong even to try” (Gilman 1694). Thus, Gilman clearly reveals to the reader that the narrator desires freedom but is kept in her room by the bars on her window. These bars directly relate to the narrator’s relationship with her husband, John. The narrator is not satisfied by her relationship with her…show more content…
Thus, the bars in the narrator’s window serve as a gothic symbol for the relationship the narrator has with her husband because of the way in which they both restrict her independence and power. This symbolism reveals Gilman’s critique of patriarchal society, as she draws attention to the confinement of women in society through the physical confinement of the narrator. This suggests that Gilman condemns the way in which patriarchal society limits the independence and authority of woman at this time. Furthermore, the narrator observes that “John is away all day, and even some nights” (Gilman 1686). This displays that John does not understand the challenges the narrator faces because of her confinement and he simply assumes that he knows what is best for her. Therefore, John’s refusal to let his wife leave the house clearly reveals his perceived superiority. Similarly, the narrator describes the bars as strong and acknowledges her inability to overpower them. Thus, the bars in the narrator’s window also signify the relationship the narrator has with her husband because of the way in which they are both superior to the
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