"The Yellow Wallpaper" Analysis

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“The color is hideous enough, and unreliable enough, and infuriating enough, but the pattern is torturing…It slaps you in the face, knocks you down, and tramples upon you. It is like a bad dream” (Gilman). Charlotte Perkins Gilman was a writer, lecturer, social activist and feminist (Beekman). The Yellow Wallpaper was a story about feminist criticism. Using the aspects of Feminist criticism, The Yellow Wallpaper can be analyzed by using aspects of character in the conformist female, aspects of character in the typical male and dialogue.

To begin, The Yellow Wallpaper depicts the conformist female in 1899. The conformist female believed that her husband was superior to her no matter what. It did not matter that she had thoughts or feelings; what matter was the males’ needs and wants. For instance, Jane could not write about her feelings because her husband would not allow it. “I did write or a while in spite of them; but it does exhaust me a good deal—having to be so sly about it, or else meet with heavy opposition” (Gilman). Her husband didn’t want his own wife to be smart, let alone have enough thoughts and ideas to write about. The conformist female also believes in everything males want her to believe in. John’s sister is a prime example. “There comes John’s sister…She is a perfect and enthusiastic housekeeper, and hopes for no better profession” (Gilman). Her attitude about being stuck in the house all day is happy, and she wants nothing more, but that is because that is all she knows; that is all John will allow her to know.

Also, the typical male of the late 1890’s is demonstrated in the story. The typical male degrades all women, and he strongly believes that he is inferior to all of them. “John laughs at me, of course, but one expects that in marriage” (Gilman). Jane tries to voice her opinions but John just laughs it off. Her beliefs and views mean nothing to the person who should, in fact, care the most. John also dismisses her ideas when she’s actually very worried. The wallpaper is making her slightly crazy, but he won’t even believe it because he believes he knows much more than her. “There is something strange about the house—I can feel it. I even said so to John one moonlight evening but he said what I felt was a draught, and shut the window” (Gilman). Her ideas are dismissed because he believes, since he is the physician and she is the woman, that she knows nothing and is just being overdramatic.

In addition, the dialogue used in the story is an important aspect of the feminist criticism used. The way one person talks to another shows their true colors. John speaks to Jane in a way one would speak to a child. “Then he took me in his arms and called me a blessed little goose” (Gilman). No adult female should be spoken to like she is an infant. John speaks to her, and respects her, like she is a child. John also overanalyzes every move Jane makes. He acts as if he does it out of love, when really he is just trying to control her.
“I got up softly and went to see if the paper did move, and when I came back John was awake.”
“What is it, little girl?” he said. “Don’t go walking about like that—you’ll get cold” (Gilman).
John believes that nothing is wrong with his wife, so he believes she has no reason to be walking about. He wants her in his sight at all times, especially now that she is sick.

In conclusion, many things can be learned after reading The Yellow Wallpaper. After reading, one can see how women were looked at in early years. Readers can also realize how much things have changed and also how much respect women have gained. This paper can teach readers how to analyze a story using feminist criticism. Knowing the criticism can help readers develop a stronger understanding of the story, making it easier to read. Using feminist criticism, a reader can analyze The Yellow Wallpaper by using aspects of character in the conformist female, aspects of character in the typical male and dialogue.





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