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Destroying social norms - Essay Example

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Throughout history even as late as the early 20th century, women have been virtual slaves to the male-dominated world. Very few women were able to discover a life filled with self-expression and self-determination thanks, in large part, to the restrictions placed on them by their legal and social status. …
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Destroying social norms

Download file to see previous pages... Throughout history even as late as the early 20th century, women have been virtual slaves to the male-dominated world. Very few women were able to discover a life filled with self-expression and self-determination thanks, in large part, to the restrictions placed on them by their legal and social status. Charlotte Perkins Gilman in “The Yellow Wallpaper” wrote specifically about these female problems by providing a glimpse into the strong mind of a woman who finds herself a prisoner to the external dictates of husband, society and invisible legal status. Although she does her best to resist her confinement using various different means, she discovers she is completely incapable of escaping the bounds of her society’s definitions without first sacrificing her sanity simply because she is permitted no voice of her own. As it is presented in the story, this is not done through any sense of malice, but rather as an attempt to protect her from the harmful influences of the outside world. In many respects, this attitude has become echoed by the leaders of the American Republican party and women again face the possibility of losing their voice to external control. Within Gilman's Victorian era story, the female protagonist is never given a name, symbolizing her universal application to all women living in America at that time. She is instructed by her husband and her doctor (one and the same individual) to remain isolated in one of the upper rooms of a remote country house as a remedy for what has been interpreted as post partum depression (Greene, 2001). She obeys her instructions reluctantly, allowing the reader into her thoughts about another room downstairs that she feels would have helped much more. “I wanted one downstairs that opened on the piazza and had roses all over the window, and such pretty old-fashioned chintz hangings! but John would not hear of it. He said there was only one window and not room for two beds, and no near room for him if he took another” (Gilman, 1899). The room she must occupy is instead on the second floor and thought to have originally been a child's nursery, including bars on the windows. The old faded yellow wallpaper attached to the walls would only deepen her sense of despair associated with post-partum depression. The symbolism of the room and the helplessness of its intended occupant is heightened as she makes comments such as “He [John] is very careful and loving, and hardly lets me stir without special direction. I have a schedule prescription for each hour in the day; he takes all care from me” (Gilman, 1899). Within this brief opening, it is already clear that though the woman has a good sense of what is wrong with her and what she needs to cure this malady, her voice is completely disregarded by those in control of her life, generally acting for what they believe to be her welfare. It is easy to look at this story as a chilling tale of the detrimental effects of a highly oppressive society that existed long ago, but many of these issues are pushing themselves back into society through the efforts of the right-wing Republican party. For example, Gilman's character is unable to have a voice in her own medical care which essentially makes her the victim of her husband, doctor and a political system that gives John the power to send her away to another doctor if she fails to demonstrate satisfactory improvement within a given timeframe. How different is this really from a political system being pushed into place by a Republican House in which a woman and her doctors are not afforded the right to make even life-saving decisions on their own if it means the necessary abortion of a potentially viable but not guaranteed fetus? This is not to advocate abortion, but to ask whether a living woman's life shouldn't have at least as much weight as a fetus that may or may not survive and definitely won't if the mother passes. Other recent efforts of the Republican party that directly attack ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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