A Feminist Break Though: the Yellow Wallpaper

The Yellow Wallpaper

“The Yellow Wallpaper” A feminist break though and analysis of the meaning At the time of its publication in 1892, “The Yellow Wallpaper” was related to primarily as a supernatural tale of scary and insanity in the custom of Edgar Allan Poe. Charlotte Perkins Gilman based the story on her own experience with a “rest treatment” for mental disorder. The “rest remedy” inspired her to wright a critique of the medical treatment recommended to ladies experiencing a condition then called “neurasthenia” (Golden 145). Gilman’s work was praised by many. Elaine R.

Hedges, author of the afterword to the 1973 variation, praised the work as “among the rare pieces of literature we have by a nineteenth-century woman who directly confronts the sexual politics of the male-female, husband-wife relationship.” Since that time, Gilman’s story has been gone over by literary critics from a wide range of perspectives, including biographical, historic, mental, feminist, semiotic, and sociocultural. Almost all of these critics acknowledge the story as a feminist text composed in protest of the irresponsible treatment of women by a patriarchal society.

I argue that the concern of whether Gilman provides a feminist option to the patriarchal oppression that is exposed in the story is evident. The yellow wallpaper is symbolic in the sense that it represents restrictions females are held to, like the home and family. In the case of Charlotte Gilman, ladies were constricted to the set specifications that were determined by males. Women were anticipated to accept these borders and stay in location. In todays society the majority of these constraints are shared by both celebrations and ladies have every chance a male has.

Than women were cast as psychological servants whose lives were dedicated to the well-being of home and family in the perseverance of social stability (Crewe 10). Charlotte Perkins Gilman, in the “Yellow Wallpaper,” depicted Gilman’s struggle to shake off the constraints of patriarchal society in order to be able to compose. Getting beyond the yellow wallpaper, women defied the power that males held over ladies, escaped their confinement, and created for themselves a brand-new ideological function. After carrying out a close reading it was easier to recognize the primary symbols Gilman utilizes in her story.

The very first was when the storyteller presents “myself and John,” the storyteller determines her awkward positioning in her sentence and society; she does not see herself as equivalent with “normal individuals like John.” Among the words the narrator utilizes repeatedly is “queer.” Gilman utilizes the word throughout a time of cultural change from the significance of “unusual” and “peculiar” to the euphemisms associated with homosexuality. Some critics like Jonathan Crewe think she uses the word to make her readers “recognize same-sex desire as repressed, not absent, in normative heterosexuality” (Crewe 279).

Another sign used is the 2 doctors. The storyteller’s other half and sibling represent the power that men possess over women. Among the most stand apart symbols is the color yellow. It is often utilized to signify “inability, strangeness, cowardice, ugliness, and backwardness” ( Hume 481). Her writing can also be viewed as a sign. The undated journal entries “can be viewed as a spatial indication of the storyteller’s own fragmented sense of self” (Golden 193). Catherine Golden suggests that the writing is not “a place for self-expression or a safe domain” for the narrator’s newly emerging sense of self (Golden 194).

Through her works the storyteller “not just exposes her unconscious awareness of her fictive design, however likewise leads her readers toward an understanding both of the terror and dark amusement she feels as she confronts herself-a prisoner inside the yellow wall-paper an unpleasant social text developed and sustained not just by guys like John, but by ladies like Jennie, and, the majority of badly, herself” (Hume 480). Mary the baby-sitter represents perfection in the eyes of guys. The narrator fits nowhere and is properly nameless. The wall paper itself can represent the narrators reduced self.

The pattern on the wall paper when compared to gymnastics, it signifies her interests as a game and expresses a “contrast between the strictly mannered and socially appropriate habits of her husband (and less empathically, of Jennie) and her increasing frustration with such habits” (Hume 480). Daylight and moonlight are also symbols utilized by Gilman. In moonlight the narrator comes to life in the evening. In the night not just did the shadow female initially appear while John was sleeping, but the storyteller likewise presumes that she is what John truly desires. The daytime illustrates order and domestic regimen.

In the last couple of lines of the story it becomes extremely clear that the narrator has lost her mind when she mentions,” I wonder if they all come out of that wall-paper as I did?” The tearing of the paper is an act, the storyteller utilizes to break free from the walls that confine her. The last symbol with significance is when the narrator states, “I kept on sneaking.” Beverly A. Hume describes the paradoxical transformation in the storyteller’s husband as “by passing out, changing his standard function as a soothing, manly figure to that of a stereotypically weak nineteenth-century woman” ( Hume 478).

On the other hand Denise D. Knight states, “crawling on one’s hands and knees is emblematic of the crudest kind of servility” (290 ). Beverly A. Hume post suggests that “The Yellow Wallpaper” is a story that “offers the in-depth and chilling accounts of a woman’s entrapment, defeat, and movement toward madness …” (Hume 477). I agree with this but Hume goes on to state that the storyteller does not even know the ramifications of the story at all. This I do not concur with I think eventuallies in the story the narrator is totally knowledgeable about the ramifications in the story.

Hume thinks that the narrator “presumes the monstrous, percentages of the yellow wallpaper, ends up being a monstrous figure, and, in doing so, changes her narrative into a disturbing, shocking, and darkly ironic tale about nineteenth-century American womanhood” (Hume 477). I find this statement to be true with my own critique. Hume says that the storyteller’s failure to recognize her complex problem show her inability to recognize “her regressive psychological state” (Hume 480).

I partially concur with this declaration but at a point in the story the narrator makes it clear she knows she is not improving when she tells John she is much better in body however not in mind. In the end the storyteller “tries to clarify definitively the meaning of the grotesque, merges into it, and, in result, becomes it– as the lady in the wallpaper” (Hume 480). Another literary critic I followed was Catherine Golden. Golden’s essay is a contrast in between Mitchell’s and Gilman’s fiction. Golden believes the purpose of putting the doctor in Gilman’s story was to “reach Dr. S. Weir Mitchell, and persuade him of the mistake of his methods” (Golden 145).

This may hold true however the only person who could show or disprove it is Gilman. Golden points out that Gilman “defied her medical professional in 1890 not only by composing ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ however also, more particularly, by producing a protagonist who likewise writes. Her imaginative life and her fiction reveal that she ultimately overwrote Mitchell’s efforts to make her more like the ideal woman patients predominant in his upscale medical practice and his fiction” (Golden 145). The 3rd critic was Jonathan Crewe. His post checks out the form and ‘queerness’ of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper. Crewe asserts that “beyond her own revolt against the treatment to which she is subjected, the lead character becomes the excellent subject of power/knowledge as her ‘insanity’ advances” (Crewe 274). I agree with this declaration however further through his post I start to get puzzled about what he is attempting to portray. Crewe uses “queer” theory to examine Gilman’s text and screen “the extravagant, concealed, important, or numinous even in the domain of excellent kind” (Crewe 278). Crewe says that queering is defined as recognizing an absolute “homoerotic subtext or mode of repressed desire …” (Crewe 279).

Crewe explains his title in two methods. One is that Gilman uses a homosexual impact with her characters: “nevertheless unknown the narrator may in reality be- it would be traditionally incorrect to suppose that, in 1890, there could be no lesbian ramification …” (Crewe 280). This I do not agree with, I do not think Gilman was utilizing a homosexual effect with her characters nor was she using lesbian implications. The second meaning to his title is a bit odd: “this irrepressibly queer affect of subjectivity, of which the narrator is the story’s agent/bearer, gets connected to the yellow wallpaper” (283 ).

I agree that the storyteller was connected to the yellow wallpaper however it is unclear to me in what way she is attached by his definition. “The Yellow Wallpaper” is a testament to Gilman’s own life experience and in reading it there is a feeling of the tough decisions she made in her life and the effect those choices had on her emotionally and psychologically. Never once again did Gilman write anything with such a personal accessory as this story had. Gilman’s life was filled with pain, mentally and mentally, yet she lived every second to maximum extent.

It seemed her only fear was that she would not accomplish her life’s work, and due to the fact that of the lifestyle she lived she never ever got recognition for her achievements. Gilman passed away on August 17, 1935, by huffing chloroform; she had terminal cancer and decided it would be best to take her own life than pass away a long uncomfortable death. It wasn’t until the 1970s that Gilman’s works started to get recognized in ways she would have wanted. She was ahead of her time and her work will forever be remembered as one of the terrific feminist writers. Works Cited Crewe, Jonathan. Queering ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’? Charlotte Perkins Gilman and the Politics of Kind.” Tulsa Researches in Women’s Literature 14 (Fall 1995): 273-293. Golden, Catherine.” ‘Overwriting’ the Rest Treatment: Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Literary Escape from S. Weir Mitchell’s Fictionalization of Women.” Vital Essays on Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Ed. Joanne P. Karpinski. New York: G. K. Hall, 1992. 144-158. Hume, Beverly A. “Gilman’s ‘Interminable Grotesque’: The Storyteller of ‘The Yellow Wallpaper. ‘” Research Studies in other words Fiction 28 (Fall 1991): 477-484.

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