“The Yellow Wallpaper” Assignment
“The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman incorporates many feminist themes that are often reflected in feminist literature. The story offers the autobiographical account of a woman who takes advice of her husband, John, a prominent physician in dealing with her mental illness. Gilman’s character is highly depressed, but her husband recommends a sort of cure that requires her and encourages her to be very passive and not engage in active works. Essentially, she is encouraged to be domesticated and remain in the sphere of influence that women traditionally partake. Gilman highly disagrees with such notions and decides to write about her accounts in her personal time, against John’s advice. The progression of this story is furthered as it exposes how she is made insane by the supposed “yellow wallpaper” which was also synonymous and symbolic of the means in which she becomes insane by the lack of helpful treatment that was provided by her physicians. She furthermore sees the wallpaper as a woman creeping behind bars, and describes the furniture as being bolted down. This depiction of bars behind the windows as well as seeing more and more women behind the bars symbolizes her progression to insanity by the prospects of domesticity. This symbolic portrayal points to how she is being forced to be domestic has driven her to insanity.
Some elements of feminism that were incorporated was the element of voice. “The Yellow Wallpaper” uses a lot of personal voice, as it the entire story is based on Gilman’s personal voice and seeks to mention and follow the narrative of her progression into an insane being. This personal use of voice is very apparent to feminist literature, as this personal reflection was not oftentimes seen in other works and being able to see this personal voice. Another important element that she takes note of is the idea of the importance of writing. She tries to hide this power from her husband showing how much writing is valued for the narrator of the story and how it is the only means of her escape from the cult of domesticity. This notion is important as it gives her a sort of escape from the insanity that she bears. Another such element is the symbol of collectivism, as she sees many women behind bars in her episodes of trauma which she feels like she’s a part of. This assumption is contributive to the idea that many women are stuck in these domestic spheres, encouraging the themes of collectivism in feminist literature.