"A Feminist Critique of The Yellow Wallpaper"

Imagine being in a relationship where your opinion isn’t valuable to your significant other. In this story the narrator was being treated like a child all over again who’s not allowed to think for their self. Throughout this story she keeps it all bottled up until she reaches a breaking point. This story shows an inside look at the life of an American woman. Using feminist criticism the reader can analyze Charlotte Perkins-Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” through dialogue, symbols, and setting.
Dialogue between the narrator and her husband shows a great part of feminist criticism. For example during the middle of the story, John and his wife are having a conversation concerning her well-being. She explains to him how she feels this place isn’t helping her and he constantly tells her “really dear you are doing better” (9). Trying to convince her she is doing better and that it is his opinion that truly counts. He decided to bring her to this house, keep her in this room all day every day because that’s what he thinks is best. Then when she replied with an answer not satisfying to him she says “he sat up straight and looked at me with such a stern reproachful look that I could not say another word” (9). This also shows the effect he has on her and how she is frightened but brave enough to speak her mind at times, most women in that point of time would have just been too scared to say anything at all. Back then they were so weak and dependent on men that there was nothing they could do when they wanted a change.
The yellow wallpaper was the biggest symbol in this story. It stereotypes how women didn’t have an opinion on change. The narrator once said the wallpaper “sticks horribly and the pattern just enjoys it” (16). She’s stuck in a life style without an opinion and it’s not going to change. Then at the end of the story she can no longer compose herself and rips the ugly wallpaper off the wall. It symbolizes her freeing herself from the society’s stereotypes breaking the tradition of women not having a mind or opinion of their own. She distinguishes her split personalities but balances them at the same time. The narrator says “I kept on creeping just the same, but I looked at him over my shoulder” (17) proving that she’s hiding her identity from John and that she can be the wife he wants her to be and the woman she really is in the same surroundings.
The narrator is placed in more of a prison than a bedroom setting. “For the windows are barred” (7), is how she begins to describe her room. It’s like she is in a cage or jail cell and cant’ leave. It’s keeping her from leaving or escaping her situation in a way. She also states “I lie here on this great immovable bed--it is nailed down” (6), she’s not allowed to move or make changes to the room. Just like women in society weren’t allowed to speak their minds and make changes for their life. If that changed women would be looked down upon by men. The narrator was looked down upon by her husband because she wanted to think for herself.
The narrator’s life caused her to go crazy inside. She wasn’t allowed to think for herself and was looked at differently for doing so. Eventually her feelings could no longer stay in and she let them free. She ripped the wallpaper off the walls therefor freeing her from being a typical woman in a man’s world. She no longer wanted to live by his rules but establish her own. Using feminist criticism the reader can analyze Charlotte Perkins- Gillman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” through dialogue, symbols, and setting.





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