“Trapped Between the Walls of The Yellow Wallpaper”
“The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, is a short story about a woman who suffers from a mental illness such as postpartum depression but is unable to recover due to her husband’s, who is also a doctor, lack of understanding of her condition. The story was written during a time period where women were victims of oppression. Women were treated as second class people in society during this period. Charlotte Perkins Gilman, an ingenious woman, boldly describes the thought process of the society she lived in during the time period in which she wrote “The Yellow Wallpaper”. Using a feminist outlook, one can analyze “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman with both a male and female point of view.
Firstly, to examine “The Yellow Wallpaper” through a male’s perspective, Gilman makes strong statements about men during her time period, how they thought of and treated women. The men portrayed women as children rather than adults capable of making their own decisions. This can be seen when the narrator declares, “If a physician of high standing, and one’s own husband, assures friends and relatives that there is really nothing the matter with one but temporary nervous depression -slight hysterical tendency- what is one to do?” (Gilman).
The narrator explained that her husband dismisses her illness through use of dialogue. He strongly believed that his wife was being overly dramatic and that nothing was wrong with her. The typical male makes his wife a conformist by enforcing his beliefs on her. The husband truly believed that nothing was wrong with his spouse, ignored the symptoms and failed to offer the right treatment therefore worsening her condition. The narrator was belittled and called names and became a victim of oppression by her husband. This is can be seen when the husband interacted with his wife, “Then he took me in his arms and called me a blessed little goose, and said he would go down to the cellar, if I wished , and have it Whitewashed into the bargain” (Gilman). The husband treated his wife like a child and spoke to her as such by using the term “little goose”. This showed how much intelligence the husband thought his wife had and his lack of respect towards her. He degraded his wife by using terms that one would typically use to speak to little children. Gilman clearly demonstrated how oppressed women were during this specific time period through dialogue from the perspective of men.
Secondly, readers can grasp a better understanding of “The Yellow Wallpaper” by examining dialogue from the viewpoint of women. Gilman showed two contrasting sides of women during the time period in which “The Yellow Wallpaper” was written. The first viewpoint Gilman demonstrated was the conformist side which the women followed. The conformist female would follow in the belief that women are subservient to men and this was m...