Gender Roles In The Yellow Wallpaper By Charlotte Perkins Gilman

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Giving women their rights was a great and serious issue in the past. Women were not treated equally as men do. This problem of females is also shown in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story “The yellow wallpaper”. In this story, the gender roles and feministic ideas are presented beautifully. Women earlier were under pressure to work as the male asked to do. Males were meant to be supreme. According to me, rights for male and females should both be equal. We will discuss the above statement in the following paragraphs in contrast to the short story.

To begin with, females used to face a lot of problems in ancient times. As also mentioned in the short story, ladies cannot explore their own thoughts. They were not allowed to do the things they want. They could not even dream on their own. Their independence of them is lost somewhere. The narrator in this story suffers from the same situation. As she suffers from a disease called “hysteria”, the doctors as well as her husband who was a respected physician were not concerned about her problem, rather they tell her to do what they wanted to tell. She was having a keen interest in writing but was asked to stop it by her husband (John). He asks her to give her body full rest. The ancient time's women seem like they don’t have their own life to live, instead, they used to live for their husbands. We can see great feminism here. The story is also having other characters as the narrator’s sister-in-law. She used to take care of the narrator. The narrator sees the house as a horror house.

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Probing further, it is necessary for the women at that time to obey all the commands given by the males. The narrator’s husband, John also believes that his wife needs to sleep as much as she can to recover from her problem. “There are things in that paper that nobody knows but me, or ever will” (Gilman 22) this line shows us the threat that she is having of her husband which is not letting her open with anyone and explore her own thoughts. Similarly, other females have the same conditions at that time who are brutally horror by the men. They all have difficulty in achieving their dream as all their rights are under the rights of the males. Racism in that era was at its peak as everyone does not have equal rights and did not treat equally. As we get in-depth into the story, we can clearly see that John is having overconfidence in himself as he says that his wife is getting cured but the narrator knows that nothing was happening as he thoughts. Moreover, in the story, it is shown that she had found the funny things and other stuff like this that is kept mystery by her are explained by Eugenia C. Delamotte in her article as “In the process, she makes herself more and more of a mystery to the husband who doesn’t want to know her, anyway, and indeed prefers for her to be a little conscious of her own mind as possible” (Delamotte 10).

Moving attention to the next paragraph, it seems in the story that Gilman speaks for the other women in this story as it gets huge attention from the female readers. This is due to the reason that they can relate themselves with the story as at that period of time, they all were suffering from the same problem. the wallpaper that she sees all day long is she explains and relates conflict with all the females. John shuts his wife in the room where earlier children were living due to which the windows were having railing from where she cannot even see properly. This tells us that the narrator along with the other females at that time cannot see their future anywhere. She also sees the yellow wallpaper on the wall the whole day which is dull and faded as the life of the females at that time is. She tries to make some sort of pattern in it which kind of explains to us that she wanted to do something innovative and do her best in her life. This incident is also explained by Eugenia C. Delamotte in her article as “The narrator, forced to ‘read’ her wallpaper passively as a substitute to writing actively, has transformed her reading into an act of imagination and thus an act of freedom. Yet this ‘freedom’ seems to consist in creeping around and around a ‘nursery’ in a circle” (Delamotte 12). The narrator tears out the wallpaper in the end out of frustration that was filled inside her. This depicts that if we will keep on stretching something it will burst out one day. In this way, the females will burst out of anger. After a long period of time, females started getting their rights and started living with their freedom. This story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman first won't become that popular but later on, when women started getting their rights, this becomes an iconic story. Finally, Eugenia C. Delamotte illustrates the overall image of the story as “The final image in ‘The Yellow Wallpaper is one of triumph and defeat, insight and insanity, self-knowledge and self-loss. That the story should end in a maze of ironic ambiguities as confusing as the wallpaper itself is appropriate” (Delamotte 13).

To cap it all, it could be said that the women earlier were not given the true value that they deserved. Gilman shows her life experience that how injustice was done to the female. Other women encouraged this and moreover, with the reference of story, we have discovered various factors that are now improved but earlier there were gender discrimination issues.

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Gender Roles In The Yellow Wallpaper By Charlotte Perkins Gilman. (2021, August 18). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 17, 2024, from
“Gender Roles In The Yellow Wallpaper By Charlotte Perkins Gilman.” Edubirdie, 18 Aug. 2021,
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