Individuality and the importance of upholding women’s rights, such as viewing a woman as a respectable, free-willed human being, are the essential truths established in Charlotte Perkin Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper.” Through the development of the narrator Gilman uses symbolism and imagery to awaken the reader to the reality of what a woman’s life was like in the 1800’s. Analysis of the symbolism throughout the story reveals that the author was not only testifying to the social status of the women in society but specifically giving insight into her personal life, and what she was subjected to. What appeared to be a mere, contrite story to many readers, was actually a successful strike at the wrong mindset that society possessed at that
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Her failure to carryout her desires resulted in insanity. Not only did she have her husband working against her, but she also had society’s opinion at large to her disadvantage. During the 1800s, the only “right” workplace for women was at home. Women were viewed as incompetent, and as beings that were not able to think for themselves. The narrator in the “Yellow Wallpaper” knew nothing in her husband’s eyes. Her feelings were not relevant, but were instead pushed aside and counted worthless. Although the narrator never came to grips with the need for individuality, the reader can imagine how different the circumstances may have been if she had exercised her right to think and act freely.
Thinking and acting freely was a rare occurrence in the women at large in the 1800s. In the first part of the short story on page 437, the narrator states “Personally I disagree with their ideas. Personally I believe that congenial work, with excitement, and change, would do me good. But what is one to do?” The narrator reveals her lack of confidence and of individuality when she remarks “ But what is one to do?” She constantly discounts her feelings and continually discredits herself of any self- confidence she has left within her. Further down the page she articulates her hatred for the room and expresses her desire to move to another room downstairs, but once