“The Yellow Wallpaper,” a short story written in 1892 by Charlotte Perkins Gilman was intended to bring attention to the women facing the oppressive nature of gender roles. The author, Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s project, “The Yellow Wallpaper” is to make readers aware that women suffer post-pregnancy given that the author herself suffered nervous disorders post her own pregnancy. Gilman had a successful life and much of her works were meant to implement on women’s unequal status of marriage and financial independence. Gilman reached the status of mental illness and her treatment (rest-cure) had made it only much worse, however, she managed to live a long productive life pursuing to help others who are in the same state as she was in. My topic is meant to expand on the elements the author, Gilman, uses to show how dealing with women and mental health is a serious matter especially given the time era where women were oppressed due to the significant play in gender roles and domestications. The narrator, in “The Yellow Wallpaper” suffers post-partum depression, which nowadays has proven to be a sickness. However, the unnamed narrator’s illness is worse due to society, her husband, and her brothers’ condescending demeanors towards a serious medical condition. She undergoes the effects of domestications loss of human value, depression, gender roles, bias, controlled education, & limited opportunities as she is imprisoned by her husband, John.
Gilman places the two male characters, John & the narrator’s brother in a way where they are superior to the narrator. She uses them to emphasize the emptiness of a life cut off from society & social gatherings. Given the fact that John uses his diagnosis to treat his wife in such an inadequate way. John is a physician and he does have intentions of curing his wife, however, he may not take it as seriously as she explains it to be. Falling into his gender roles, John treats his wife by insisting that their “beautiful getaway” will be a great treatment to restore her normal senses. John portrays himself as the dominating source to the family and he exemplifies his role in society by going about his work duties as a doctor as described in the narrator’s words, “John is away all day, and even some nights when his cases are serious….John does not know how much I really suffer” (Gilman 2). Another way John is bound to the societal norms of gender roles is shown with how he keeps his wife constrained physically, emotionally, and mentally in a nursery room. John belittles his wife and views his wife more like an adornment for the home. He keeps her away from writing, work, and outdoor activities which only insist that women are seen as less of a person and more of an adornment. In The Yellow Wallpaper, the author describes Jane as if she’s about to slip into insanity by, “I have a schedule prescription for each hour in the day he takes all care for me, and so I feel basely ungrateful not to value it more” (Gilman 2). The author selects the word choice “all care for me” to describe the control he has over his wife’s life. Although John had positive intentions, Jane shouldn’t have had to feel less of a human in order to adhere to John’s view on superiority or dominance of the male gender.