Professor Nicholas Young
November 4, 2012
Liberation from Oppression and Society Norms: The Story of the Yellow Wallpaper
The short novella The Yellow Wallpaper is a short story demonstrating a woman drove made by the confines of feminist society in the story’s setting in the turn of the 19th century. The sick character, a woman defiant in her struggle against her patriarchal power figure, demonstrated classic societal norms of the times. Even though she became increasingly more mentally ill in her fight against a male-dominated society, she eventually defeated and overcame the belittling and submissive expectation of women at the time, finding her own equal way in the world.
The divide in the nuclear family prior to the 20th century was strongly apparent. Women’s roles were mainly regarded for domestic purposes only. Even in the beginning of the story the main character, whose name is never revealed throughout emphasizing her insignificance, she spoke about the house she was more or less trapped in. While using phrases such as “there is a delicious garden,” she seemingly lets her inner domiciliary tendencies out using phrases that allude to a women’s place in the kitchen (Gilman 70). This took place in the midst of hinting at criticizing her situation.
The Household magazine quoted the later nineteenth century that while the housekeeper (female figure) “does so much for the comfort of others, she nearly ruins her own health and life” (qtd. in Hartman). This was especially true of the opposition demonstrated in The Yellow Wallpaper. The first few pages of the short story revealed the character as a proper Victorian-era woman; oppression and objection were soon exposed as she became ill and not properly cared for by her husband, the doctor. There was an inner struggle shown in her thoughts of “he takes all care from me, and I so feel basely ungrateful not to value it more,” even despite her intuitive thoughts against her...