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"The Yellow Wallpaper"


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Charlotte Perkins Gilman once said “In our steady insistence on proclaiming sex-distinction we have grown to consider most human attributes as masculine attributes, for the simple reason that they were allowed for men and forbidden to women” (about.com). This quote resembles what Charlotte Gilman had thought about feminism and why she had wrote the story “The Yellow Wallpaper.” What really inspired her to write this story is that she went through a depression and got a series of unusual treatment for it. She had married her first cousin and then she found out she had breast cancer then committed suicide in the year 1935 (biography.com). The story is about a woman who is oppressed by her husband, because he thinks he is superior over her, and doesn’t have the courage to stand up to him until the end of the story. Using the aspects of Feminist criticism, “The Yellow Wallpaper” can be analyzed by using character, symbols, and setting.

First, one of the big aspects that are identified in this story is character. There are only three important characters in this story and one of them is the husband John. “John does not know how much I really suffer. He knows there is no reason to suffer, and that satisfies him” (Gilman).This quote relates to feminism because John does not even want to listen to what Jane has to say. Whatever he says is right because he is the man and has the superiority. ”There comes John, and I must put this away,--he hates to have me write a word” (Gilman). What this quote is trying to say is that the narrator can only write when she is by herself because John does not think that women are intelligent and can write by themselves. Also Jane writes because she is emotional and does not have enough courage to let it out in reality yet (Gilman).

Next, the second aspect that has been noticed is symbolism. In this particular story there are many symbols but only a few represent feminism. When the narrator says “You think you have mastered it, but just as you get well underway in following, it turns a back somersault and there you are. It slaps you in the face, knocks you down, and tramples upon you. It is like a bad dream” (Gilman). This quote represents John because in the story it is like Jane is in a bad dream with a higher standing controlling male figure that does not care about her and treats her like dirt. “Sometimes I think there are a great many women behind, and sometimes only one, and she crawls around fast and her crawling shakes it all over” (Gilman). This quote is about Jane trying to escape and find her individuality and also stand up to John. And she also mentions about only escaping at night which means when John is asleep she can do what she pleases.

Last, the final aspect of the story is setting. In this story there are many different settings that describe feminism. “It is a big, airy room, the whole floor nearly, with windows that look all ways, and air and sunshine galore. It was nursery first and then playroom and gymnasium, I should judge; for the windows are barred for little children, and there are rings and things in the walls” (Gilman). John put her in this room because the room used to be made for kids and that’s what he thinks of her and where she needs to be. At the end of the story in the room, the narrator says “I wonder if they all come out of that wall-paper as I did” (Gilman)? At the end of the story Jane has found her individuality and stands up to John. She has escaped the bars that were entrapping her in the wallpaper and now she is a strong woman. She also starts calling him “young man” and treating him like a child. John had fainted because he did not think that women can be this strong and also she talked back to him.

In conclusion, by using the aspects of character, symbols, and setting, a reader can analyze “The Yellow Wallpaper” while using feminist criticism. By using this criticism one can conclude that in the old days men looked down at women and gave them no rights. Also, in today’s society women still have double standards used against them. The author wrote this story to show people the significance of how people are abusing women’s rights
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Works Cited
"Charlotte Perkins Gilman." 2011. Biography.com. http://www.biography.com/articles/Charlotte-Perkins-Gilman-9311669.
Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. The Yellow Wallpaper. Print.
Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Charlotte Perkins Gilman Quotes." About.com. Web. 3 Apr. 2011. <http://womenshistory.about.com/od/quotes/a/c_p_gilman.htm>.
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