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Oppression of Women in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper

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For a long time, women were oppressed and controlled by men. Particularly in early 19th century, these thoughts and stereotypes bound women stronger than ever. "The Yellow Wallpaper" written by Charlotte Perkins, shows readers how men and women were treated differently during early 19th century by her characterization of the narrator and her husband. The “Yellow Wallpaper” is about one man who controls his wife and forces her to hide herself and makes her isolated from the world by giving her wrong protection and one woman who is absolutely forbidden to do anything and isolated from the world because of her “depression”. In the story, Gilman conveyed her view of men as authoritative, controlling figure that doesn’t appreciate women’s feelings or thought and women as powerless figure that were ignored and oppressed by men through the use of characterization of husband, wife (the narrator), and symbolism.
Gilman conveyed her view of men through the use of characterization of husband, John, who symbolizes authoritative, controlling figure that ignores women’s feeling and thought. In the story, John wants to help his wife her depression but at the same time, he wants to control and authorize his wife by using his position, doctor. The narrator states, “…I am absolutely forbidden to “work” until I am well again” (1). This shows how John is trying to block the way to the world and make her powerless by taking away her basic rights such as working and writing. Also, when his wife wanted to go and visit her cousin, John completely ignored her opinion and refused the request. “…tell him how I wish he would let me go and make a visit to Cousin Henry and Julia. But he said I wasn’t able to go, nor able to stand it after I got there” (5). Th...


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...to help her. I pulled and she shook, I shook and she pulled, and before morning we had peeled off yards of that paper” (8). When the narrator pulls down the wallpaper, it means her freedom from all the pressures and “cages” that was oppressed because of all the stereotypes and ridiculous nonsense.
Gilman used characterization of husband, wife (the narrator), and symbolism to show the readers how women were treated during early 19th century. Now in 21st century men and women are in equal position and everyone takes this as a natural thing. But in 19th century, these natural things were women’s dream and hope. We should thanks to all people who worked for our rights and be thankful about this freedom.




Works Cited

Kennedy, X. J., and Dana Gioia. "The Yellow Wallpaper." Backpack Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing. 2011. Print.


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