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Feminism in "The Yellow Wallpaper"

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The Feminist View of the Yellow Wallpaper

The yellow wallpaper is a story about John and his wife who he keeps locked up due to her "nervous condition" of anxiety. John diagnoses her as sick and has his own remedy to cure her. His remedy s to keep her inside and deterring her from almost all activities. She is not allowed to write, make decisions on her own, or interact with the outside world. John claims that her condition is improving but she knows that it is not. She eats almost nothing all day and when it is suppertime she eats a normal meal. John sees this and proclaims her appetite is improving. Later in the story, the woman creates something of an imaginary friend trapped behind the horrible looking yellow wallpaper in the room, which her and john sleep. She watches this woman and in the end tries to free her by tearing down all the nasty looking wallpaper.

I think that a theme behind this story is the feminist views of the time. This woman is pretty much held captive by John, his sister and the housekeeper. This is shown when she says, "He is very careful loving, and hardly lets me stir without special direction" (p. 12). She tries to make light of the situation by explaining how much John loves and cares about her but every time she tries to say something nice, it comes out making the situation seem worse. "It is so hard to talk with John about my case, because he is so wise, and because he loves me so." (p 23). "One expects that in marriage" (p. 9). This highlights the point that one should not be suffering in marriage because marriage is supposed to be symbolic of the love between two people allowing them to morally bear children. The woman remains nameless to show that there is no specific name,...


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...ecause john stifles her writing and creativity, the narrator begins trying to make some sense of the wallpaper. She begins creeping, as the woman appears to be doing. She replaces her feeling of being watched and studies it coming to the conclusion that the woman is trapped. She levels with the woman because she is trapped behind bars(on her windows), while the figure is trapped behind the wretched designs. At the end of the story when she completes her removing of the wallpaper it seems as if she believes she has freed herself from John saying, "I've got out at last in spite of you and Jane (p. 36). It is not known who Jane is but it could be her name. This would mean she has driven herself to the point where she is so mad that she now believes she is the woman from the wallpaper. She could also be referring to the housekeeper, or someone not mentioned.



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