A Feminist Critique of the Yellow Wallpaper

“I pulled and she shook, I shook and she pulled, and before morning we had peeled off yards of that paper (Gilman).” Author Charlotte Perkins Gilman used in her short story, The Yellow Wallpaper. This passage from the story explains how crazy the main character had gone after accompanying herself with the yellow wallpaper. When the author, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, wrote The Yellow Wallpaper, she was suffering from melancholia and beyond. She wrote it to carry out an idea that her physician’s instructions had driven her mad. Using feminist criticism, the reader can analyze Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper through character, dialogue and symbols.

Characters within the story establish feminist criticism. The main character above all characters thoroughly establishes how she feels in situations. “John laughs at me, of course, but one expects that in a marriage (Gilman).” This explains how her husband laughs at her ways and how it relates to criticizing her role as a woman. “He is very careful and loving and hardly lets me stir without special direction (Gilman).” This passage from the short story explains how much the narrator resents her husband because even though he is loving, he still tells her what to do.

The dialogue within the story helps the reader really envision the feminist criticism throughout the short story. “’What is it little girl’ he said. ‘Don’t go walking out like that – you’ll get cold(Gilman).’” The passage from the short story displays the husband’s affections for his wife and how he cares for her safety. It also displays how the husband treats his wife as a child instead of a partner. Another example from the short story is a passage, “John says if I don’t pick up faster, he shall send me to Weir Mitchell in the fall(Gilman).” This passage shows the reader that the husband often threatens his wife when she’s not doing things properly. He’s threatening her again, as if she was a child or like his property instead of treating her as an equal.

Symbolism within the story surely elaborates feminist criticism. In the short story there is quite a lot of feministic criticism. “The faint figure behind seemed to shake the pattern just as if she wanted to get out. (Gilman)” The passage from the short story explains how the figure symbolizes the narrator because she is trapped in a marriage and is in desperate need to get out of it. Another example from the short story is, “It slaps you in the face, knocks you down, and tramples on you. It is like a bad dream (Gilman).” From a readers perspective, one can really see how the narrator describing the wallpaper can relate to how a man would treat his wife and how it makes the wife feel.

In conclusion, using feminist criticism, the reader can analyze Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper through character, dialogue, and symbols. The short story The Yellow Wallpaper is about a woman whose going through emotional problems and finds herself trapped within some dreadful wallpaper which symbolizes her roles in marriage. She has trouble believing her husband only wants best and in the end she gives herself up to the wallpaper.





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