Symbolism Of "The Yellow Wallpaper

2249 words - 9 pages

Upon a normal and very literal reading of Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper", the main character, a woman, appears to be a mad and raving lunatic. Throughout the story she rants and raves about the strange yellow wallpaper in the colonial mansion that she is forced to stay in for a short period of time while she is recovering from depression. She does not stop at talking about how strange she finds the wallpaper in the mansion, but instead, she is eventually driven to tearing it down because she thinks that there is a woman figure confined behind it.The narration of this story is a first person omniscient, allowing the reader to see the many thoughts that course through the woman's mind, which works very complexly at times, especially at the end of the story where the woman finally decides to peel the wallpaper completely from the wall. This viewpoint gives the reader a very good idea of what the woman's exact feelings are at different times, depending on the time of day and the people that she is in contact with. The name of the woman is never given, only the name of her husband and Jennie, who is the woman who helps take care of her and her child while she is ill."The Yellow Wallpaper" is a true testament to the life of Charlotte Perkins Gilman. It relates to the same illness that Gilman experienced. Eventually she discovered that the sickness was purely a result of the oppression that she felt throughout her life. This oppression was a result of her being a woman in the Victorian time period. The woman who is diagnosed as ill by her husband and many other physicians is not sick at all, but instead, she has discovered exactly what is missing in her life, freedom from men and their oppression. "The Yellow Wallpaper" is purely a feminist text; Gilman accomplishes this in many ways, but there are three main ways that she conveys this: by the common treatment of women in the history of the Victorian era, by the use of symbolism throughout the story, and by using a sense of parallelism between the woman trapped in the wallpaper and the main character.At the very start of the story, feminism can be observed and taken as the main driving purpose in the story. Gilman wrote "The Yellow Wallpaper" in a time period when women were often defined by their marital status; this is the reason why the woman telling the story fails to include her own name. The lack of a name creates a sense that she believes herself to be unimportant, or perhaps this is a testament to the fact that she thinks the people around her are treating her as someone who is unimportant. It was common in the Victorian time period for women to simply be known by their husband's last name because married women were regarded as property of their husbands.Another thing that Gilman accomplishes by excluding the name of the main character is that it makes the woman appear more representative of all the women in society. During the time period that this story was written, women...

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