Patriarchy And The Yellow Wallpaper

2354 words - 9 pages

Patriarchy and "The Yellow Wallpaper"

"The Yellow Wallpaper" motivated the female mind of creativity and mental strength through a patriarchal order of created gender roles and male power during the nineteenth century and into the twentieth century. While John represented characteristics of a typical male of his time, the yellow wallpaper represented a controlling patriarchal society; a sin of inequality that a righteous traitor needed to challenge and win. As the wallpaper deteriorates, so does the suppressing effect that male hierarchy imposed on women. Male belief in their own hierarchy was not deteriorating. Females began to think out of line, be aware of their suppression, and fight patriarchal rule. The progression of the yellow wallpaper and the narrator, through out the story, leads to a small win over John. This clearly represents and motivates the first steps of a feminist movement into the twentieth century.

The nineteenth century was a time of male domination and female suppression. Women faced economic social and freedom of rights barricades. Men's interests and efforts were towards the important people; themselves. We see this when the narrator is genuinely concerned about something strange in the house. John shows no empathy or support towards his own wife. Alternatively john responds by telling her it "was a draught, and shut the window" (Gilman 904). Perhaps this carelessness for women contributed to the mistreatment of the female illness by just giving them drugs to cope with sickness. The narrator continuously reminds us of the social expectations of the male in relation to females. The narrator uses phrases like "one expects that" and "John says..." to reinforce male's normal actions and treatment aimed at the female population.

Males conduct also mirrored women's social position. Women were discouraged to be "over stimulatingly intellectual" (Treichler 191) or to develop "foolish fantasies" but were pushed to "exercise self control." Women could not vote or be in leadership positions political or religiously. Women would never be "elected of God" to minister a church. No main stream religion had ever or would ever allow a woman to lead and make decisions after her mistake in the Garden of Eden. Main stream society has always been influenced by main stream religion. Women's gender roles (Kendal 343) were learned from a young age. Education would be substituted with learning motherly skills and how to be a good house keeper. As a result, females would aspire to be the best women and fill her role in life. Jenny shows us the conformed house keeper who "hopes for no better profession" (Gilman 906). As the industrial revolution matured and technology increased, many opportunities for women arose. Some women were able to work. They may have felt it a privilege or a disgrace; Either way, women continued to face male capitalism. If wages were even paid to women workers, "wage gap" (Kendal 361) was present between...

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