"A Feminist Critique of The Yellow Wallpaper"

October 31, 2011
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“I did write for 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). Charlotte Perkins the author of The Yellow Wallpaper is known for her lectures on women’s topics. She believed that women should be independent and rely on themselves, and that both genders in a relationship should share the responsibilities of their home equally. Also, Charlotte wrote several novels and essays; she is mostly known for her book Woman and Economics; she also worked for the Journal Forerunner, and was a co-founder of the Women’s Peace Part in 1915 (Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860-1935)). In The Yellow Wallpaper, the main and narrator struggles with her mental disease in trying to find a way to escape the inferior role of her marriage. Using feminist criticism readers can analyze Charlotte Perkin’s The Yellow Wallpaper through Symbols, and characters.

First, feminist criticism is used in the story through symbols. An example of feminist criticism and symbols is found when the narrator states, “I did write for a while in spite of them—having to be so sly about it, or else meet with heavy opposition” (Gilman). Writing is a symbol. Writing represents the independent female side of the narrator. Through writing the narrator can express her thoughts and emotions freely thus making her an independent women. Also, another symbol in the story is the Wallpaper. The author writes, “I kept still and watched the moonlight on that undulating wall-paper till I felt creepy…the faint figure behind seemed to shake the patter, just as if she wanted to get out (Gilman).” Throughout the story the narrator is alone in her room and while she’s alone she tries to figure out the design of the wallpaper. The wallpaper is a symbol for the narrator’s life. The wallpaper and its design represent the independent role of the narrator; the wallpaper shows how the narrator slowly breaks away from her inferior role as a wife and realizes she shouldn’t be trapped, and that she doesn’t anyone to make decisions for her. In conclusion, using feminist criticism, readers can analyze the story through symbols.

Second, readers can analyze the story through the character of John. Through the story John acts as the superior role in his marriage. “John laughs at me, of course, but one expects that in marriage” (Gilman).This line implies that by being laughed at the narrator is being brought down by the male figure. Through Johns action readers can infer that he is a misogynistic male, because he expresses superiority in his marriage. “He is very careful and loving, and hardly lets me stir without special direction” (Gilman). This is another example of the misogynistic character of John. The way that John doesn’t let his wife stir without special direction is another way of saying that he has complete control over her. He is very controlling thus portraying a misogynistic male. All in all, through using feminist criticism readers can analyze the story through John.

Third and last, readers can analyze The Yellow Wallpaper through the main character or the narrator. The narrator expresses weakness in her role of marriage. For instance, the author writes “I meant to be such a help to John, such a real rest and comfort, and her I am a comparative burden already” (Gilman). It’s evident in this line that the narrator places herself as a burden to her husband. The way the character views herself as inferior to her husband makes her a weak female character. Another example is when the narrator states, “he took me in his arms and called me a blessed little goose” (Gilman). By being called “a blessed little goose” the narrator is being treated as a child, and by being treated as a child she is once again given an inferior role as a weak female. In conclusion, by using feminist criticism readers can analyze the story through the main character.

All in all, using feminist criticism readers can analyze Perkin’s The Yellow Wallpaper through symbols and characters. From reading the story readers can relate the different character types to themselves and others. The significance of the story is to show readers the different types of feminist criticism and how they relate to life. In conclusion, by using feminist criticism readers can analyze the story through symbols and characters.

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