The is Female Oppression

Category: Science
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Charlotte Perkins Gilman once said, “A man does not have to stay home all day in order to love it; why should a woman? Gilman’s belief of women values strongly differentiates from the 19th century overpowering male roles in society. Her compelling words of women oppression produced a wide range of feminist fiction that changed misogyny views. With the main concern of changing the status of women in society, Gilman wrote the short story, “The Yellow Wallpaper,” which had a great impact on doing so. When reading, one can analyze this by observing the differences in male and female perspectives on women oppression through dialogue and symbolism.

To start off, the reader can examine dialogue in “The Yellow Wallpaper,” through the male perspective to get an understanding on how they see women and the status they uphold. The narrator states in the begging of the story “ If a physician of high standing, and one’s own husband assures friends and relatives that there is really nothing the matter with one but temporary nervous depression- a slight hysterical tendency- what is one to do?” (Gilman p. 844). With this, the narrator is able to demonstrate that her husband, John (the male perspective), does not take her seriously. He believes she is being dramatic and prescribes her a “rest cure” which forbids her to do anything. Though she says that she “disagrees with their ideas” (Gilman p. 844) the narrator becomes a victim of oppression as she falls into conformity, which allows her husband to use dialogue that minimizes her dignity.

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This is revealed in the narrator’s conversation with her husband.  Phrases such as “little goose,” (p. 846) “little girl,” and “Bless, her little heart!” (p. 850) confirms that women were almost treated as children, unable to uphold the title of an “adult.” The narrator writes, “And dear John gathered me up in his arms, and just carried me upstairs and laid me on the bed, and sat by me and read to me till it tired my head.” (p. 849) expressing the unawareness of how women see men diminishing them with words meant for children. Secondly, one can analyze “The Yellow Wallpaper,” through the dialogue of the female perspective. In the story, Gilman portrays two different sides on how women approach men during the 19th century.

As a conformist, Gilman demonstrates the side that allows women to feel guilt in their own happiness. This is made clear when the narrator states, “I meant to be such a help to John, such a real rest and comfort, and here I am a comparative burden already!” (p. 846) With this, she blames herself for complaining about the wallpaper and not being able to deal with the appearance of it. Even though she asks John if she could change rooms or even the horrific wallpaper, he ignores her and says no. In addition, her second angle is one who is urging to be an open, independent woman free from restraints. As we head towards the ending of the story, the narrator speaks up for herself as she says, “I got put at last, said I, in spite of you and Jane! And I’ve pulled off most of the paper, so you can’t put me back!” (p. 855) By saying this, she is exposing to the readers that she felt trapped by not just the room, but by her family as well. As she manages to break free, she is finally able to make a decision based upon herself with no influence of anyone else.

Lastly, when reading this short story, the narrator has incorporated the use of symbolism. The symbolism is shown through the distinct yellow wallpaper in the room as the protagonist becomes obsessed with it overtime. She describes in the story, “Through watching so much at night, when it changes so, I have finally found out….. she just takes hold of the bars and shakes them hard.” (p 852-853) She is explaining that the wallpaper is seen as preventing her from the outside. The wallpaper as she describes as “bars,” is her imprisonment and is unable to escape from it. It’s almost as the pattern of the wallpaper is strangling her keeping her confined in that room. Patrick Smith expresses the interpretation of the wallpaper as, “The disempowerment of the nineteenth-century woman, the lacks of rights, including the right to be outside the house, and lack of pay for domestic labors to make women appear as slaves, or prisoners, in their own homes.” The yellow wallpaper symbolism represents the oppression women had at the time in which “The Yellow Wallpaper” was written.

In conclusion, Charlotte Perkins Gilman has shown the connection between women oppression through her dialogue and symbolism. Through the perspectives of both male and female, readers can conclude from the text that women struggled for their liberation due to the fact of being in a male dominated environment. “The Yellow Wallpaper” has impacted many women to be heard and has demonstrated the importance of gender equality. As Charlotte Perkins Gilman conveys her message, it transforms the mind changing male ideology. With such rich symbolism and dialogue used in the context, Gilman is able to capture the idea of oppression, imprisonment, and confinement to alter the social status of women during the 19th century; thus, affecting women today.

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The Is Female Oppression. (2022, Feb 07). Retrieved from