The Yellow Wallpaper

Submitted By lylybee
Words: 1226
Pages: 5

No longer subordinated that Man Gilman explores the female condition using the life of this one woman to reveal feminism and oppression of women in the 18th century. Many women in this century including Gilman, suffered from post partum depression after the birth of a child and were seen as hysterical and nervous beings and the advised treatment was that of “Rest Cure” in order to monitor the condition. Was the problem post partum depression? Or was it the “female condition” that women experienced in society? The story, “the yellow wall paper” is centered on the descriptions of the wall paper and the woman interactions with it which reveals more to the reader than just a mere state of depression. The female condition was characterized by women’s attempt to identify themselves, what role they played in society and what they wanted versus the social construction and conformity of the time. The story begins by the narrator admitting that “John laughs at her, but one expects that in marriage.”(Gilman 1) Women’s opinions especially in marriage seem to be irrelevant and this shows how marriage was dominated by the male authority. John, the narrator’s husband made all the decision for his “sick” wife. Although the narrator knows what is right for her, in terms of her health, John ignores her needs and regards to them as “fancies,” meaning illusions and delusions of the mind. “Personally I disagree with their ideas,” she says. “Personally I believe congenital work, with excitement and change, would do me good. But what is one to do?”(Gilman 1) This illustrates that the narrator had intelligence and ability but unfortunately she accepted her place in marriage and the society as a whole, where her opinions do not count and there’s nothing she can do about it. Such a simple decision such as picking the room that she desired, the downstairs room which was pretty to her, was not considered. Instead John insisted on the room upstairs, one with the barred windows and the horrid wallpaper. The narrator also expressed some sort of strangeness of the house, she felt afraid and when she confronted her husband of the matter, he brushed it off, claiming that what she felt was draught meaning a current of air intruding space and shut the window. Shutting of the window symbolized neglect and repression of her liberation. John did not want to hear anything that the narrator had to say and he thought he knew and understood what she was going through. This reduced her to the level of a child, unable to stand up for herself. The woman was expected to follow her husband orders especially in such a condition. John being a physician of high standing made the situation worse because narrator’s friends and family believed all he said about her health due to the fact that he was a doctor. Furthermore, the narrator’s brother was a doctor of good standing as well and concurred with John’s ideas and treatment therapy. So as much as the narrator could deny that John’s therapy was harmful, her brother’s opinion reaffirmed John’s credibility. Her special orders were to stay in bed, suppress her imagination and most importantly discontinue her writing. “He is very careful and loving, and hardly lets me stir without special direction,” says the narrator (Gilman 2). This symbolized John being overprotective and imprisoning her to the condition and his treatment therapy and whenever she tries to free herself, she feels ungrateful for failing to value her husband’s efforts, so she submissively adheres to the orders. What a manipulative game! Since her husband forbids her to express herself, she then used her imaginative power to focus on her surroundings especially the wallpaper. She compares her condition to that of the horrid wallpaper. “It is dull enough to confuse the eye in following, pronounced enough to constantly irritate and provoke study, and when you follow the lame uncertain curves for a little distance they suddenly commit