Effect Of Oppression In Yellow Wallpaper

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Effect of Oppression in "The Yellow Wallpaper"
"The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is a self-told story about a woman who approaches insanity. The story examines the change in the protagonist's character over three months of her seclusion in a room with yellow wallpaper and examines how she deals with her "disease." Since the story is written from a feminist perspective, it becomes evident that the story focuses on the effect of the society's structure on women and how society's values destruct women's individuality. In "Yellow Wallpaper," heroine's attempt to free her own individuality leads to mental breakdown.
Right from the beginning of the story, it becomes clear that the protagonist has no voice. Her husband is very controlling and oppressive since she has to ask him for permission to do anything. He prohibits her of writing and seeing people she loves, assuming he is the only one who knows what's best for her. The fact that he's a physician emphasizes that he is a man in power and that it would be impossible for the narrator to object to the treatment he prescribed her. Moreover, she doesn't try to disobey him, but rather she hides her true feelings inside and suppresses her emotions around him, so he wouldn't send her away for more serious treatment.
Even though her husband treats her with what seem at first as love, it becomes clear she is nothing more to him than a piece of property. Every time he talks to her, he asks her to get better for his sake and the children's, and only after mentions hers interests. He doesn't think that she has any normal human feelings or worries and attributes her behavior to minor nervous depression. He doesn't see her true suffering since he believes "there is no reason to suffer" (574). He could never understand that a woman can be unsatisfied with the role imposed on her by society. Even though the heroine recognizes that her condition is caused by something other than John's theory, she is too scared to voice her opinion.
From being secluded in the room for three months, heroine starts slowly to realize that her depression is caused by oppression of her husband. She recognizes that she gets "unreasonably angry with John sometimes" and later wishes he would get his own room (573).

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"Effect Of Oppression In Yellow Wallpaper." 123HelpMe.com. 21 Jun 2018
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She dreads him coming home because she enjoys exploring the wallpaper and wants to free the woman imprisoned behind it, which symbolizes her own individuality. Her hatred of the wallpaper symbolizes her hatred of her oppressive marriage and her role in society. She criticizes her marriage when states that John laughs at her, which is only expected. She criticizes women's role in the world, when she notes that John's sister wouldn't want to be any more than a housekeeper. She recognizes that her only present purpose is "to dress and entertain, and order things" (574). All of these things dwell on her daily and slowly drive her insane.
By the end of her stay in the room, her only objective is to free the woman behind the wallpaper, thus to free her own individuality. During the day, she can do whatever she wants; she can write and she can "creep," but at night she goes back behind the bars, since her husband is with her. She finally realizes that John is her enemy and that she is forced to hide her true self in his presence. She also sees other women imprisoned by wallpaper along with her and sees their suffering, but she can only help them during the day. She notes that those women would be better off dead than strangled by the pattern on the wallpaper.
She finally realizes that she can't take the oppression anymore and that she would rather die than go back behind the pattern. Even though at the end, she tries to gain some control by locking the door and creeping around as she pleases, she also realizes that someone will always be able to break down that door and take control over her. She is not able to fight the oppression and, at the same time, she can no longer compromise with it, so she ultimately looses her own mind. However, in her insanity she is free of the depressing thoughts of her miserable existence and she can no longer be controlled by anyone.
In "The Yellow Wallpaper," Gilman demonstrated how suppressing women's rights to act upon their own will can lead to tragic outcomes. She used strong symbolism to emphasize the effect of oppression on individuality and showed how hard it is to fight for your rights. Moreover, her heroine was so strongly conditioned by society that she herself believed in the role assigned to her and did not see any way out of her situation. Gilman's heroine lacked bravery to stand up to her husband, but she also did not resubmit to him at the end. The desire to be free and inability to reach that desire threw her into despair and frustration, which in return lead to the tragic destruction of her mind.

Works Cited
Kennedy, X. J. and Dana Gioia. An Introduction to Fiction. 9th ed. New York: Pearson, 2005.

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