Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story, “The Yellow Wallpaper”, can be viewed through several prisms: as a Gothic tale, as a tragic narrative, as a horror story, as a psychological thriller. However, whatever be the view adopted, there can be little doubt that the story…
llow Wallpaper” is set in a rigidly patriarchal world in which every aspect of a woman’s life - family, marriage, class, and legal, educational, and economic system, is strictly under the control of male authority (Davison, 53). It is a telling indictment of the confinement that a nineteenth-century woman writer was subjected to in a male-dominated society. The atmosphere of the house, in which the story unfolds, is one of rigid control and autocratic routine. In this setting, Gilman’s narrator emerges as a woman whose individuality and creative abilities are stifled by the patriarchal system, which ultimately drives her to insanity. The leitmotif of the narrative is the subjugation of the narrator by patriarchal authority. This subjugation takes several forms. The narrator’s marriage itself is a form of imprisonment. She is also subjugated by societal expectations, which demand her conformity to the sexist stereotypes of the age. The medical establishment arbitrarily enforces its will on her. Finally, her efforts at rebellion are crushed under the weight of male authority.
The narrator’s marriage is the foremost form of subjugation. Gilman delineates the marriage as a form of imprisonment, in which the husband, John, is the benevolent gaoler: “He is very careful and loving, and hardly lets me stir without special direction” (Gilman, ebscohost.com). The marriage has unequivocally made the narrator a prisoner within the domestic sphere. This is a criticism of the convention of the period, under which the married woman “was frequently commodified and became a femme couverte under established law—a woman whose autonomy and identity were denied as she was regarded as her husband’s property” (Davison, 55). John dictates his wife’s every move. “I have a schedule prescription for each hour in the day” (Gilman, ebscohost.com). She feels that she is kept under constant surveillance. Jennie functions as a stand-in for John during his absences. ...
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“The Yellow Wallpaper”: Subjugation of Women.
Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story, “The Yellow Wallpaper”, can be viewed through several prisms: as a Gothic tale, as a tragic narrative, as a horror story, as a psychological thriller. However, whatever be the view adopted, there can be little doubt that the story is, first and foremost, “one that offers the detailed and chilling account of a woman's entrapment, defeat, and movement toward madness--one caused by patriarchy,” (Hume,ebscohost.com).
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