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Yellow Wallpaper

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“There are things in that paper which nobody knows but me, or ever will. Behind that outside pattern the dim shapes get clearer every day. It is always the same shape, only very numerous. And it is like a woman stooping down and creeping about behind that pattern. I don’t like it a bit. I wonder—I begin to think—I wish John would take me away from here!” Jane is the main character through this short story and she is battling through society’s expectations. Her husband John says some things that represent how women should have restrictions. The bedroom that Jane is incarcerated in has bars and crazy wallpaper that represent symbolism. This story can show one how women are portrayed in 1899 by society. Using feminist criticism, the reader can analyze Charlotte Perkins-Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper through character, dialogue, and symbolism.
The first aspect of feminist criticism in The Yellow Wallpaper is character. Jane’s husband, John, controls Jane throughout the story. Jane has anxiety and John does not know how to help her get through it. He believes that it is all in her head and he purposely treats her like a little girl so she can continue to feel suppressed by society. He represents the typical male in the way that men are supposed to be head of a relationship. Men are supposed to be tough, brave, and emotionless. Gilman says, “He has no patience with faith, an intense horror of superstition, and he scoffs openly at any talk of things not to be felt and seen and put down in figures.” According to this, he is impatient and careless to things that do not matter to the common man. At the end of the story Jane made a decision to finally escape from society’s expectations. She made the final decision to take down the wallpaper, when John seen this he was in disbelief. He did not expect Jane to stand up for herself because he thought he would always be in control of her mind. “Now why should that man have fainted? But he did, and right across my path by the wall, so that I had to creep over him every time”. This shows how John was caught off guard and Jane was stepping out of her shell. This was the start of a new woman and the quote even says that she had to creep over him every time. This means that whenever she wanted to do new things she has to forget about society’s expectations and explore the person she deserves to be.
The second aspect of feminist criticism in The Yellow Wallpaper is dialogue. Jane was held back most of the time by her husband. He was the one keeping her from rebelling against society. He would tell her, “What is it little girl? Don’t go walking like that, you’ll get cold”. John would refer to her as a little girl; this shows he had little respect for Jane. John did not want her to leave the house. He did not want to give her freedom to leave the house. He goes along with the stereotype that men are superior. Another example supporting how this story can be criticized is how John does not realize how he is suppressing her. “Then he took me into his arms and called me a blessed little goose”. This quote shows that he is against change and isn’t going to treat Jane with respect. He wants to treat her like a little girl because he thinks that women should not have any freedom at all.
The last aspect of feminist criticism in The Yellow Wallpaper is symbolism. The bedroom Jane lived in was a jail cell. The bars on the window represented society. She had to hide her journal because she was afraid he would find it. During this time it was not normal for women to express their feelings, they were to stay home and cook and clean. Gilman says. “She just takes hold of the bars and shakes them hard. She was so fed up with society’s expectations she didn’t know what to do. Finally Jane escaped from her jail cell. “Then I peeled off all the paper I could reach standing on the floor”. She awoke from her nightmare and realized she was not going to live her whole life worrying about society’s expectations. She was the woman trapped behind the wallpaper and now she is free to live her life. This created a whole new start for women.
In the end, Jane was a woman who could not do what she wanted. She worried too much about what society wanted from her. This story can be read just literally or it can be read using feminist criticism, the reader can analyze through character, dialogue, and symbolism. John was the typical male in society. Dialogue represented how he would doubt Jane and liked to see her trapped. The wallpaper represented the society throughout the whole story. Jane had rip down the wallpaper to be the person she deserved to be. Sometimes people have to go through struggles in order to get what they want.





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