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Women’s Freedom from Oppression: An Analysis of The Yellow Wallpaper

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Women were not seen in the past as they are seen now. They were seen as the weaker, less knowledgeable sex. They had to listen to their husbands and they had no say in anything. We are reminded of this when we read “The Yellow Wallpaper.” Charlotte Perkins Gilman was an activist for women’s rights. With this being said, I believe Gilman’s purpose for writing “The Yellow Wallpaper” was to show the readers women do have rights, this is a changing world, and women don’t have to listen to everything their husband or significant other tells them to do. She does this by the narrator symbolically seeing herself trapped inside the wallpaper and her eventually pulling the wallpaper off the wall and being able to feel free to do whatever she wants. In “Monumental feminism and literature’s ancestral house: Another look at ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’” Janice Haney-Peritz, Department of English (Beaver College), states, “As a memorial, ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ is used to remind contemporary readers of the enduring import of the feminist struggle against patriarchical domination; while as a boundary marker, it is used to demarcate the territory appropriate to a feminist literary criticism” (114).
There are several scenes/instances throughout this story that show that John sees the narrator, his wife, as being less than he is. These instances are: when the narrator says that she is forbidden to “work” until she is well again, John treats the narrator like a child, John makes her lie down for an hour after each meal, the narrator states that she doesn’t want to irritate her husband, and at the end of the story where she says, “I’ve got out at last in spite of you and Jane and I’ve pulled off most of the paper, so you can’t put me back” (Gilman).
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...hen I read the story I just thought that the narrator was crazy. I didn’t like the story and wasn’t sure what I was supposed to get from it. However, I smiled after reading it a second time. After all of this has been said, I hope it shows how and why Gilman’s purpose for writing this short story was to show the readers women do have rights, this is a changing world, and women don’t have to listen to everything their husband or significant other tells them to do.
I am so glad that time has changed and that we no longer have to live in a society where women are not seen as equals.



Works Cited

Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. "The Yellow Wallpaper.". N.p.. Web. 10 Mar 2014.
Haney-Peritz, Janice. “Monumental feminism and literature’s ancestral house: Another look at
‘The Yellow Wallpaper’.” Women’s Studies 12.2 (1986): 114. Academic Search Complete. Web. 10 Mar 2014.



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