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The Yellow Wallpaper: Subjugation of Women - Research Paper Example

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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. …
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The Yellow Wallpaper: Subjugation of Women
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"The Yellow Wallpaper: Subjugation of Women"

Download file to see previous pages In the simplest terms of reference, it is the story of a woman’s subjugation. “The Yellow 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. The narrator becomes a prisoner whose every action is subject to scrutiny and analysis all the time. She is under the surveillance of patriarchal society, which is represented by John and his sister. The house itself is symbolic of a prison, with its isolated location, and the garden with “hedges and walls and gates that lock” (Gilman ebscohost.com). Again, the description of the room in which the narrator lives evokes an image of a prison, or a mental asylum: “the windows are barred for little children, and there are rings and things in the walls” (Gilman ebscohost.com). This impression is further strengthened by the image of the bed which is nailed down to the floor, and the restraining gate at the head of the stairs. As her sanity progressively declines, the narrator imagines the yellow wallpaper also to be a part of the surveillance machinery. She declares that “two bulbous eyes stare at you” and “those absurd, unblinking eyes are everywhere” (Gilman ebscohost.com). She transfers her feeling of imprisonment to the yellow wallpaper, and begins to visualize the bars of a prison in the pattern. She imagines a woman imprisoned behind these bars, struggling to get out: “And she is all the time trying to climb through. But nobody could climb through that pattern -- it strangles so” (Gilman ebscohost.com). The narrator begins to identify herself with this imagined woman imprisoned in the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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Brilliant paper! Used it to complete an assignment for a english course. It was easy as ABC, for the first time in my life.
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