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"The Yellow Wallpaper": Argumentative Essay

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In a battle between a female’s freedom and a male’s dominance, a void exist in between. Charlotte Gillman, a well-known writer, narrates the story of how a woman suffering from mental illness is stuck within the void. She writes the short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” to discuss how the woman is seeking help from her husband, John, who is a physician. He loves her but his male dominance blurred his choices making him not realize that he couldn’t help her. However, are those women doing this because they are suppressed, and they think that is the only way to feel free? Is this freedom? Do we blame such mistakes on them or the community? Are they even considered mistakes? Freedom and peace of mind are basic human rights, regardless of gender. Taking away such rights can lead to horrible consequences. Females are known to express freedom through emotions. Even though some might argue that you can’t place a woman equal to a man and that each gender has its own role, this is not a personal issue, it is a communal issue. How each community treats its females will determine the rank of that community because, from a feminist point of view, women are the essence of every community.

Reading The Yellow Wallpaper will give readers the whole truth, the bigger picture, and the unknown conversation with the self. People might not realize how important freedom is. Freedom is a basic human right, and the violation or penetration of such a right will have gruesome consequences. At the beginning of The Yellow Wallpaper, the narrator’s husband diagnoses his wife with “a slight hysterical tendency”, so he prescribes a rest. The narrator doesn’t question his authority because he is a well-known physician. However, they had an argument about the room that they will spend their holiday in. While she wanted a small room on the ground floor filled with roses, John insists on the room on the top floor of the house, with bars on the window, and “stripped off” yellow wallpaper. This small argument the narrator had with her husband resembles the whole problem, in fact, it is the main problem. John thinks that the top room is much bigger and airy, however, the narrator is plagued by the details of the room, like the bars covering the window, and the bothersome “ripped off” wallpaper. It is just a huge cage. The narrator is facing some psychological issues, is trapping her going to help in any way? Yet John won the argument and she stayed in the ugly room on the top floor. As a part of John’s prescription, the narrator is forbidden from work, and by work John means the use of mind, like writing, and engaging with her own imagination. John is not realizing that he can’t order one to not use their mind, even if this one was his wife. Scientifically, our mind is working as long as our senses are open, the work done by the mind is involuntary, and a human can’t control this fact. From a realistic point of view, imagination is beautiful, our minds are beautiful, and you can’t take that away from a person because you have a degree, or because that person is a female. However, what John doesn’t realize is that work is a way for her to blow off some steam. It will be a much better and more efficient solution for her mind. The period of the story was 1892, and at that time males believed that females should spend more time at their house and take care of the house, while only males can work. Therefore, John unconsciously was trapping her in that cage.

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The narrator’s situation made her feel helpless, weak, and hopeless because her husband isn’t taking her problem seriously, or at least as seriously as he takes other people’s issues. John doesn’t view the narrator as his patient, he treats her as his wife. Therefore, most of his solutions will come out of love, but not for what’s really better for her. For instance, if a patient doesn’t like the method his/her doctor follows when treating them, they can simply tell the doctor, and the doctor will go for a new different method. Then why is this case different? Why is the narrator not getting her patient rights? Is it because she is a female? Is John stereotyping females? As a result, the narrator’s state got only worse, where she is trapped in that cage John made her, where she spends more of her time lying down just to limit her physical activity in order to be a “normal woman”. John’s method of treatment was self-control and that she shouldn’t engage with her friends and relatives but just focus on herself, however, this is just a result of John viewing the narrator as his wife and not his patient, he does not have the right-even as a physician- to prescribe self-control. Self-control should hail from within a person. His method is effective, but not in the narrator’s case. In the narrator’s case, the most effective and right method of treatment is self-expression, which is the exact opposite of self-control. Especially since she is a female in a time where females can’t express themselves properly because of sexism. The narrator should express herself in terms of wants and needs, to strengthen her sense of identity. Moving on, the narrator, fortunately, found a way of expressing her own identity, which was through the ugly wallpaper, after she noticed a creeping woman trapped in the pattern of the wallpaper. The narrator found herself in that trapped woman, and she realized that she is exactly in the same state as that woman. Where the pattern trapping that woman symbolizes her husband, and how he is controlling her desires, her needs, and shaping her identity. While John continues to ignore the concerns of his patient and considers her as a passive object of treatment, the narrator had to free herself, and that was only possible by freeing the woman in that wallpaper. In the process, the narrator got herself into that wallpaper, and then and only then she realized that the creeping woman wasn’t trapped, but in fact, was free and the narrator now is free. Freedom in the narrator’s case was only possible in the absence of her husband. Therefore, Gilman made it clear that the narrator is only free because she is in a place that her husband could never reach. Away from the noise of love and control, where she can really express and focus on herself.

As mentioned earlier, freedom is a basic human right, regardless of gender. People should preserve those rights, and ensure that their rights are preserved and others' rights too. “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman did a really good job of conveying such ideas, where Gilman uses irony to transfer multiple levels of meaning that conflict with or confuse one another. Overall, in order to live in a better world, we need to be better humans by preserving the human rights of both genders and valuing the existence and self-expression of females, because then and only then we will live in peace and harmony.

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“The Yellow Wallpaper”: Argumentative Essay. (2023, September 19). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 3, 2024, from
““The Yellow Wallpaper”: Argumentative Essay.” Edubirdie, 19 Sept. 2023,
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