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"The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman challenges notions of female domesticity,
suggesting that such notions are oppressive in terms of distorting women’s voice and identities.
Insanity is the natural out of such oppression, in which females do no longer have to follow the
patriarchal structure. The protagonist’s interpretation of the decor disguised as acceptable female
interest reflects the gendered instinct reducing women to a domestic slavery allowing her
husband to physically entrapped her. This physical isolation explicitly separates her from the
intellectual network, also impedes her vocalization; she is barely offered a chance to communicate
through actual conversation, except for connection with her sneakily-written diary. Her struggles
for two-sided communication turns her to the engagement with the wallpaper, which later results
in her transcending into madness. The linear process in which the narrator increasingly loses her
control, eventually ending up with total insanity rationalizes her gender oppression and deliberate
device for a sense of personality.
In a patriarchal society, women were suffocated and dominated by certain gender stereotypes,
which impose a life of domesticity on females. Such life allows males to control female identity
and bodily confine her. From the first entry of the text, the narrator’s name appears unidentified,
arguing against her individuality. The only notable individual name is (Silas) Weir Mitchell who
was known pioneering in rest cure implicitly justifies the significance of his treatment in medical
diagnosis, especially on women. Her husband a physician of high standing” (131) - puts a name
to the narrator’s condition as temporary nervous depression” (131) merely based on her
manifestation of exhaustion and hallucination. He does not attempt to throw light on the causes of
her syndrome, in this case, the gender role of medical diagnosis is a biased profession on females.
Diagnostic language, the authoritative voice of science, allows males to construct female following
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their pre-fixed notions about women’s nature. Diagnosed to suffer from conventional “women’s
disease”, the narrator is physically isolated and prevented to partake in social activities. She is
moved to a new house to undergo major treatment; a house serves as a suggestive of imprisonment.
The text at first begins with seemingly unobjectionable and safe topics for females: the house and
the internal décor. The narrator deconstructs on the metaphoricity of objects in the story to reflect
on her entrapment as a domesticated woman: a former nursery, bars on the window, and a huge
bedstead nailed on the floor (MacPike 287). The house that John rented a male’s privilege choice
is described as quite alone, standing well back from the road, quite three miles from the
village” (132). The isolation of the house alludes to the social exclusion of the narrator. The
material construction with “hedges and walls and gates that lock, and lots of separate little houses
for the gardeners and people” (132). restricts physical escape and figuratively impedes freely
mental function. In his genuine mind, the narrator’s husband identifies her as a gullible child,
whose responsibilities to obey without questioning. As the narrator’s initial observation, the house
was a nursery “for the windows are barred for little children, and there are rings and things in the
walls.” (133). The nursery house is symbolic of the desired state of childlikeness that her husband
always strives for control. The nursery is not a retreat to her childhood, the bars on the windows
turn the house into the prison, impeding the narrator to enter not only the adulthood but also the
active world. The status of female reduces into domesticity, which forces her to stay at home
without any connection with the outside. The nailed bedstead represents the feminine sexuality
constraint both on herself and her child the product of sexuality. The narrator is sensually
entrapped, she is seemingly deprived of sexual independence. She cannot fulfill her maternal
instinct, in other words, she is not allowed to have any physical contact with another human even
her baby. In society, women and children are considered to have the same level of intelligence. He
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thinks of his wife more as a person unable to think about herself, a dependent who must be taken
care of rather than as his companion, a person who shares his life. Men use his personal and
professional authority to direct how the narrator sees the world, transcending her into the realm of
domesticity.
Physical isolation deprives female of communication a form of expression, which turns her to
writing for words. Writing, in “dead paper” (131), becomes an outlet for the narrator’s repressed
emotions instead of physical contact with any “living soul” (131). The narrator develops an
artificial feminine self who reinforces the term of her husband‘s dominance on her self-expression:
this self attempts to speak reasonably in “a very quiet voice” (141), refrains from crying in his
presence and hides the fact that she is keeping a diary. Understanding various modes of presenting
writing materials in her dairy: punctuation and sentence arrangement illustrates the narrator’s
chaos in forming a logically-constructed mindset, which accordingly underpins her fragmented
mentality and her disrupted attempt to vocalize herself in their husband-wife relationship. In the
very first passage, she uses an abundance of conjunctions, Still I will proudly declare that there
is something queer about it. Else, why should it be let so cheaply? And why have stood so long
untenanted? John laughs at me, of course, but one expects that in marriage. (131) as to formulate
coherence in her reasoning. As the story proceeds, her firmness is disintegrated, illustrated by her
tendency towards the quasi-conjunctive word, “perhaps” (131). She is no longer confident in her
rationale but now be overwhelmed by the shift to a subjective line of argument “Personally I
disagree with their ideas. Personally, I believe that congenial work, with excitement and change,
would do me good.” (131). The fluctuation in her way of narration makes readers, properly, find
the narrator’s assertion incredible, suggesting the fragility of her self-assertiveness as well as a
sense of inferiority towards her husband. Throughout the text, line fragmentation is noticeable, the
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narrator’s making an abrupt transition between sentences breaks off the story’s cohesion. It may
appear to reminiscent of the stereotype image of a hysteric woman, who is incapable of maintaining
a coherent mind-set. Her turning to a diary, as an only soul companion, implies failure in forming
any valid communication with her husband. From the outset, “It is so hard to talk to John about
my case, because he is so wise, and because he loves me so.” (139), the narrator discloses. Her
husband gives no serious contemplation on her words, he insists that ”but you really are better,
dear, whether you can see it or not” (139), the narrator falls into a speechless circumstance in
addressing that Better in body, perhaps” I began, and stopped short, for he sat up straight and
looked at me with such a stern, reproachful look that I could not say an other word.” (140). The
male-oriented way to control women is the denial of self-expression, in this case, John manipulates
his wife with the false idea of love. He refuses tentative listening to his wife, afraid that if he does,
his dominance over his little girl” (139) will be deteriorated. In this relationship, the husband
makes a great attempt to prioritize authority over his partner “I beg of you, for my sake and for our
child’s sake, as well as for your own, that you will never for one instant let that idea enter your
mind!”. Apparently, his privilege always comes first, surpassing the narrator’s sake itself.
Falsification in the over-obedient display of feminine love allows males to infantilize wives and
struggles female in shaping her identity. In the very opening passages, the husband succeeds in
transcribing the socially-accepted behavior pattern of a “sane” woman in terms of abandon
physical experience and vocalization.
The oppression of women culminates in physical and verbal rebellion against patriarchal society.
In breaking such authority, the narrator becomes mad within the association with the yellow
wallpaper. The delusion in the interpretation of the wallpaper is the displacement of the conscious
self - a self shaped by culture - by the subconscious, which rejects the cultural construction of
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gender.” (Nandan 6 ). The wallpaper becomes a symbol both for her entrapment and freedom,
illustrating how she progressively condemns a gendered behavior standard. The wallpaper is
personified, bearing a striking resemblance to the women: a suggestive of suffering and
fragmentation “This paper looks to me as if it knew what a vicious influence it had! There is a
recurrent spot where the pattern lolls like a broken neck and two bulbous eyes stare at you upside-
down.” (135). She hallucinates and sees another woman, then women, in the wallpaper. She
identifies with these women, suggesting she is as trapped as they are. In that entrapment, the
wallpaper is tiresome and perplexing” (142) and then “the pattern strangles them off and turns
them upside-down and makes their eyes white” (143) alluding to hardship to escape the pattern of
patriarchal authority. In this view, the narrator, herself, creates a scene that she is talking to
someone else through quasi-dialogue a mode of expressing her voice, a voice that can not be
generated in actual conversation.
“I think that woman gets out in the daytime!
And I’ll tell you why— privately I’ve seen her!
I can see her out of every one of my windows!” (143)
The obsessive use of exclamation marks expresses strong emotions and marks her initial rebellion
to make her inaudible voice audible. The woman behind the wallpaper characterizes the narrator
herself, relatively, the portrayal of contemporary females at large. The figures in the wallpaper
become clearer to her, culminating in her harsh thoughts and action within it. She gets bolder in
language, replacing husband rationale by her own “It strikes me occasionally, just as a scientific
hypothesis, that perhaps it is the paper!” (141). The narrator, at last, shuts the door, isolates
herself, and stripes off the remaining paper as a rejection to comply with the symbolic order of
patriarchal society. At the very last entry of her diary, the narrator takes over the control of
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language, forcing her husband to take her words into account and follow. “I can’t,” said I. “The
key is down by the front door, under a plantain leaf!” And then I said it again, several times, very
gently and slowly, and said it so often that he had to go and see, and he got it, of course, and came
in.” (146,147). Her final triumph is declared by her last sentence “I’ve got out at last,” said I, in
spite of you and Jane! And I’ve pulled off most of the paper, so you can’t put me back!” (147). In
the text, the protagonist “creep smoothly on the floor” (146) as a retreat from her physical
sentence. She is acting instinctively and powerfully with hasty pace, informing a genuine physical
and mental rebellion. Stepping over her husband's body, she leaves the authoritative voice of
patriarchy in shambles at her feet. A narrator’s oppressive behavior at the end justifies her deviance
against patriarchy, an effort to recapture her sense of gender identity.
In "The Yellow Wallpaper", the protagonist’s reducing to female domesticity is depicted by the
objects comprising the backdrop of her life. As domestic slavery, she is impaired by lack of
physical function and slim chances to involve communication; such isolation turns her to the
writing of a diary as a habit for conversation. Such audibly repression motivates her another way
for communication, initiating her involvement with the wallpaper. Misinterpretation of the
wallpaper induces the narrator’s insanity; the point she completely loses her awareness breaks off
the gender stereotype institutes her enlightenment for self-identity.
Reference
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Nandan, J 2013, 'Madness as protest: Charlotte Gilman's 'The Yellow Wallpaper' as a subversive
text', The 18th Conference Of The Australasian Association Of Writing Programs, ed. Shane
Strange and Kay Rozynski, Australasian Association of Writing Programs (AAWP), Canberra
Australia, pp. 1-8.
MacPike, Loralee. “Environment as Psychopathological Symbolism in ‘The Yellow
Wallpaper.’” American Literary Realism, 1870-1910, vol. 8, no. 3, 1975, pp. 286288. JSTOR,
www.jstor.org/stable/27747980. Accessed 24 May 2020.

Unformatted Attachment Preview

"The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman challenges notions of female domesticity, suggesting that such notions are oppressive in terms of distorting women’s voice and identities. Insanity is the natural out of such oppression, in which females do no longer have to follow the patriarchal structure. The protagonist’s interpretation of the decor – disguised as acceptable female interest – reflects the gendered instinct reducing women to a domestic slavery allowing her husband to physically entrapped her. This physical isolation explicitly separates her from the intellectual network, also impedes her vocalization; she is barely offered a chance to communicate through actual conversation, except for connection with her sneakily-written diary. Her struggles for two-sided communication turns her to the engagement with the wallpaper, which later results in her transcending into madness. The linear process in which the narrator increasingly loses her control, eventually ending up with total insanity rationalizes her gender oppression and deliberate device for a sense of personality. In a patriarchal society, women were suffocated and dominated by certain gender stereotypes, which impose a life of domesticity on females. Such life allows males to control female identity and bodily confine her. From the first entry of the text, the narrator’s name appears unidentified, arguing against her individuality. The only notable individual name is (Silas) Weir Mitchell – who was known pioneering in rest cure – implicitly justifies the significance of his treatment in medical diagnosis, especially on women. Her husband – “a physician of high standing” (131) - puts a name to the narrator’s condition as “temporary nervous depression” (131) merely based on her manifestation of exhaustion and hallucination. He does not attempt to throw light on the causes of her syndrome, in this case, the gender role of medical diagnosis is a biased profession on females. Diagnostic language, the authoritative voice of science, allows males to construct female following their pre-fixed notions about women’s nature. Diagnosed to suffer from conventional “women’s disease”, the narrator is physically isolated and prevented to partake in social activities. She is moved to a new house to undergo major treatment; a house serves as a suggestive of imprisonment. The text at first begins with seemingly unobjectionable and safe topics for females: the house and the internal décor. The narrator deconstructs on the metaphoricity of objects in the story to reflect on her entrapment as a domesticated woman: a former nursery, bars on the window, and a huge bedstead nailed on the floor (MacPike 287). The house that John rented – a male’s privilege choice – is described as “quite alone, standing well back from the road, quite three miles from the village” (132). The isolation of the house alludes to the social exclusion of the narrator. The material construction with “hedges and walls and gates that lock, and lots of separate little houses for the gardeners and people” (132). restricts physical escape and figuratively impedes freely mental function. In his genuine mind, the narrator’s husband identifies her as a gullible child, whose responsibilities to obey without questioning. As the narrator’s initial observation, the house was a nursery “for the windows are barred for little children, and there are rings and things in the walls.” (133). The nursery house is symbolic of the desired state of childlikeness that her husband always strives for control. The nursery is not a retreat to her childhood, the bars on the windows turn the house into the prison, impeding the narrator to enter not only the adulthood but also the active world. The status of female reduces into domesticity, which forces her to stay at home without any connection with the outside. The nailed bedstead represents the feminine sexuality constraint both on herself and her child – the product of sexuality. The narrator is sensually entrapped, she is seemingly deprived of sexual independence. She cannot fulfill her maternal instinct, in other words, she is not allowed to have any physical contact with another human even her baby. In society, women and children are considered to have the same level of intelligence. He thinks of his wife more as a person unable to think about herself, a dependent who must be taken care of rather than as his companion, a person who shares his life. Men use his personal and professional authority to direct how the narrator sees the world, transcending her into the realm of domesticity. Physical isolation deprives female of communication – a form of expression, which turns her to writing for words. Writing, in “dead paper” (131), becomes an outlet for the narrator’s repressed emotions instead of physical contact with any “living soul” (131). The narrator develops an artificial feminine self who reinforces the term of her husband‘s dominance on her self-expression: this self attempts to speak reasonably in “a very quiet voice” (141), refrains from crying in his presence and hides the fact that she is keeping a diary. Understanding various modes of presenting writing materials in her dairy: punctuation and sentence arrangement illustrates the narrator’s chaos in forming a logically-constructed mindset, which accordingly underpins her fragmented mentality and her disrupted attempt to vocalize herself in their husband-wife relationship. In the very first passage, she uses an abundance of conjunctions, “Still I will proudly declare that there is something queer about it. Else, why should it be let so cheaply? And why have stood so long untenanted? John laughs at me, of course, but one expects that in marriage.” (131) as to formulate coherence in her reasoning. As the story proceeds, her firmness is disintegrated, illustrated by her tendency towards the quasi-conjunctive word, “perhaps” (131). She is no longer confident in her rationale but now be overwhelmed by the shift to a subjective line of argument “Personally I disagree with their ideas. Personally, I believe that congenial work, with excitement and change, would do me good.” (131). The fluctuation in her way of narration makes readers, properly, find the narrator’s assertion incredible, suggesting the fragility of her self-assertiveness as well as a sense of inferiority towards her husband. Throughout the text, line fragmentation is noticeable, the narrator’s making an abrupt transition between sentences breaks off the story’s cohesion. It may appear to reminiscent of the stereotype image of a hysteric woman, who is incapable of maintaining a coherent mind-set. Her turning to a diary, as an only soul companion, implies failure in forming any valid communication with her husband. From the outset, “It is so hard to talk to John about my case, because he is so wise, and because he loves me so.” (139), the narrator discloses. Her husband gives no serious contemplation on her words, he insists that ”but you really are better, dear, whether you can see it or not” (139), the narrator falls into a speechless circumstance in addressing that “Better in body, perhaps”— I began, and stopped short, for he sat up straight and looked at me with such a stern, reproachful look that I could not say an other word.” (140). The male-oriented way to control women is the denial of self-expression, in this case, John manipulates his wife with the false idea of love. He refuses tentative listening to his wife, afraid that if he does, his dominance over his “little girl” (139) will be deteriorated. In this relationship, the husband makes a great attempt to prioritize authority over his partner “I beg of you, for my sake and for our child’s sake, as well as for your own, that you will never for one instant let that idea enter your mind!”. Apparently, his privilege always comes first, surpassing the narrator’s sake itself. Falsification in the over-obedient display of feminine love allows males to infantilize wives and struggles female in shaping her identity. In the very opening passages, the husband succeeds in transcribing the socially-accepted behavior pattern of a “sane” woman in terms of abandon physical experience and vocalization. The oppression of women culminates in physical and verbal rebellion against patriarchal society. In breaking such authority, the narrator becomes mad within the association with the yellow wallpaper. The delusion in the interpretation of the wallpaper is the displacement of “the conscious self - a self shaped by culture - by the subconscious, which rejects the cultural construction of gender.” (Nandan 6 ). The wallpaper becomes a symbol both for her entrapment and freedom, illustrating how she progressively condemns a gendered behavior standard. The wallpaper is personified, bearing a striking resemblance to the women: a suggestive of suffering and fragmentation “This paper looks to me as if it knew what a vicious influence it had! There is a recurrent spot where the pattern lolls like a broken neck and two bulbous eyes stare at you upsidedown.” (135). She hallucinates and sees another woman, then women, in the wallpaper. She identifies with these women, suggesting she is as trapped as they are. In that entrapment, the wallpaper is “tiresome and perplexing” (142) and then “the pattern strangles them off and turns them upside-down and makes their eyes white” (143) alluding to hardship to escape the pattern of patriarchal authority. In this view, the narrator, herself, creates a scene that she is talking to someone else through quasi-dialogue – a mode of expressing her voice, a voice that can not be generated in actual conversation. “I think that woman gets out in the daytime! And I’ll tell you why— privately— I’ve seen her! I can see her out of every one of my windows!” (143) The obsessive use of exclamation marks expresses strong emotions and marks her initial rebellion to make her inaudible voice audible. The woman behind the wallpaper characterizes the narrator herself, relatively, the portrayal of contemporary females at large. The figures in the wallpaper become clearer to her, culminating in her harsh thoughts and action within it. She gets bolder in language, replacing husband rationale by her own “It strikes me occasionally, just as a scientific hypothesis, that perhaps it is the paper!” (141). The narrator, at last, shuts the door, isolates herself, and stripes off the remaining paper as a rejection to comply with the symbolic order of patriarchal society. At the very last entry of her diary, the narrator takes over the control of language, forcing her husband to take her words into account and follow. “I can’t,” said I. “The key is down by the front door, under a plantain leaf!” And then I said it again, several times, very gently and slowly, and said it so often that he had to go and see, and he got it, of course, and came in.” (146,147). Her final triumph is declared by her last sentence “I’ve got out at last,” said I, “in spite of you and Jane! And I’ve pulled off most of the paper, so you can’t put me back!” (147). In the text, the protagonist “creep smoothly on the floor” (146) as a retreat from her physical sentence. She is acting instinctively and powerfully with hasty pace, informing a genuine physical and mental rebellion. Stepping over her husband's body, she leaves the authoritative voice of patriarchy in shambles at her feet. A narrator’s oppressive behavior at the end justifies her deviance against patriarchy, an effort to recapture her sense of gender identity. In "The Yellow Wallpaper", the protagonist’s reducing to female domesticity is depicted by the objects comprising the backdrop of her life. As domestic slavery, she is impaired by lack of physical function and slim chances to involve communication; such isolation turns her to the writing of a diary as a habit for conversation. Such audibly repression motivates her another way for communication, initiating her involvement with the wallpaper. Misinterpretation of the wallpaper induces the narrator’s insanity; the point she completely loses her awareness breaks off the gender stereotype institutes her enlightenment for self-identity. Reference Nandan, J 2013, 'Madness as protest: Charlotte Gilman's 'The Yellow Wallpaper' as a subversive text', The 18th Conference Of The Australasian Association Of Writing Programs, ed. Shane Strange and Kay Rozynski, Australasian Association of Writing Programs (AAWP), Canberra Australia, pp. 1-8. MacPike, Loralee. “Environment as Psychopathological Symbolism in ‘The Yellow Wallpaper.’” American Literary Realism, 1870-1910, vol. 8, no. 3, 1975, pp. 286–288. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/27747980. Accessed 24 May 2020. Name: Description: ...
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