In literature, women are often portrayed in a way that is dominated by men. This domination extends well beyond literature and into society. Especially in the nineteenth century, women were repressed and controlled by their husbands as well as other male influences. In “The Yellow Wallpaper”, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, the central character, who is purposefully left unnamed in order to symbolize any wife, mother, or woman, is oppressed and clearly represents the effect of the oppression of women in society in the nineteenth century. Gilman expresses this effect in “The Yellow Wallpaper” through her use of symbolism which portrays the character’s oppression and self-expression in society during the nineteenth century.
Throughout the story, the narrator comes to recognize the cruelty in society’s treatment of women as well as how she herself is treated, and recognizing this, visualizes her suffering in the yellow wallpaper that takes over her life. In almost every community, culture, or country, the home is a symbol for security, an intimate place where women are able to express their wants and needs. In a sense the home is where they have the control. They take care of the household, raise the children, and control the pace of the home from day to day. However, in “The Yellow Wallpaper”, the narrator is taken away from her own home and forced to live in a house that is not hers. The narrator has lost all control she had from her own home and forced to live in a foreign environment where she is treated for her sickness.
... and Within The Yellow Wallpaper, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, tells the story of a woman trapped in her own ... that by accepting the norms and roles of society and thus repressing one s true desires and ... perhaps even more absurd that she accepts his control and internalizes his attitude about her and her ... in the home, the woman helps her trapped friend tear off as much of the wallpaper as possible. ...
Although it is a 2 “colonial mansion, a hereditary estate” (Gilman 704) she refers to the house “haunted” (Gilman 704) and “proudly declares that there is something queer about it” (Gilman 704).
She is not comfortable living there and on numerous occasions pleads with John to leave. Because of John’s control and power over Jane, she has no say and is forced to stay in the house where her illness intensifies with each day. The transformation that takes place in her stems from her stay in the house. This visit, according to John is supposed to improve Jane’s mental state. Jane can only express herself through her writing, which ironically John forbids her to do, simply portray the onset of oppression prevalent in this story.
Since Jane is not allowed to write, her mind helps her express her feelings of this oppression. These two activities, her writing and thoughts, she does from day in to day out are what are driving her “nervous condition” to insanity. The room in which Jane resides is full of symbolism which portrays the oppression from John, the male dominant character, as well as society. In particular, the bars on the window and locks on the door in Jane’s room symbolize her trapped feelings from her marriage. John is controlling and domineering. At times it almost appears that John is fathering to Jane.
He does not treat her like his wife, but as his patient. He has locked out all love and closed out any emotional connections with Jane. The windows also represent Jane’s inabilities to accomplish anything of importance in her life. Windows usually symbolize opportunity, hence the saying, a window of opportunity. In Jane’s case the windows represent all the opportunities she sees she could have but can not because of John’s control. She has no ability to argue this matter because according to society in her time; women were not given any opportunities 3 except those of a mothers and wives.
These roles are important but they do not allow women to express their individualism. They were clearly repressed and forced to follow what the man says. The characteristics of the yellow wallpaper symbolize her inabilities to escape this male oppression and survive on her own in society. Most important is the yellow wallpaper.
The novels Jane Eyre and Little Women are strikingly similar in many ways, and the characters Jane Eyre and Jo March are almost mirrors of each other. There are many similarities between Jane and Jo, and also some differences, as well. From childhood, although they find themselves in completely different situations, both girls experience many of the same trials in their younger years. Jane is an ...
It symbolizes so much that is going on in her surroundings. Through her solitary confinement in her room, she begins to visualize her suffering in the faded wallpaper. In the beginning, she can not control the effect the images have on her mind. She is frightened by what she sees because she still feels that John is her only out.
These images are a reflection of her own feelings, but she has not figured out how to deal with them. “And it is like a woman stooping down and creeping about behind that pattern. I don’t like it a bit. I wonder-I begin to think-I wish John would take me away from here” (Gilman 709)! She sees herself behind the paper, trapped, trying to escape.
She not only sees herself, but she sees other women as well. Gilman’s attempts of creating other women in Jane’s subconscious help create the central theme of oppression on women. These women are experiencing the same cruelty as Jane; it is just that the reader does not see this through words, only through the images in Jane’s subconscious. These other women are mere examples of how women survived in society. “Sometimes I think there are a great many women behind, and sometimes only one, and she crawls around fast, and her crawling shakes it all over” (Gilman 712).
The image of the women crawling represents women in society in general.
In the nineteenth century, women were forced to hide in the shadows of men. It was foreign to see a woman take a dominate role in 4 society. These images of women crawling indicate that Jane is aware of this oppression of women. These women are crawling because they have to hide their self-expressed identities in society and therefore feel that they can not be seen. One major reoccurring motif represented in “The Yellow Wallpaper”, is with Gilman’s reference to sunlight and moonlight. Gilman’s purpose in incorporating the sunlight and moonlight simply adds to the central theme of feminism and the oppression of women.
There are many opposing opinions on the identity of Jane in Charlotte Perkins Gilmans short story, The Yellow Wallpaper. The narrator of the story is never referred to by name throughout the entire work, however a questionable statement made by the narrator at the end of the story leads many to believe her name is Jane. Because the story does not specifically profess the narrator to be Jane, ...
The sunlight is associated with John’s dominating schedule. On a daily basis he prescribes some type of medicine for Jane. “I have a schedule prescription for each hour of the day: he takes care of me, and so I feel basely ungrateful not to value it more” (Gilman 705).
John has complete control during the day.
This control relates to Jane’s images of the women behind the wallpaper because during the day she does not see them nor relate to them. The sunlight represents oppression because when the sun shines in on the wallpaper, it covers the images Jane sees, just as men hide their wives from society. This explains why Jane is unable to see the images during the day. “When the sun shoots through the east window-I always watch for that first long, straight ray-it changes so quickly that I never can quite believe it.
That is why I always watch it” (Gilman 710).
However, during the night, the tables are turned. Jane grows subconsciously aware of this oppression only at night, for at night is when we dream and the subconscious is alive. It is always by moonlight that Jane understands more about the figure trapped within the wallpaper. “At night in any kind of light, in twilight, candle light, lamplight, and worst of all by moonlight, it becomes bars! The outside pattern I mean, and the woman behind it is as plain as can be” (Gilman 710).
Jane is able to see these clear images by moonlight 5 because she represents the moonlight.
She is able to come alive at night because John has no control, for the sunlight is gone. In the sunlight, the figure stays still, but by night when the moonlight hits the paper, she comes alive, creeping around trying to escape this oppression. As her psychological journey in the wall paper intensifies to the end, it correlates with the advancement of her mental condition. The narrator sees herself getting better, but John, the one person who has all of the power sees her condition deteriorating, causing Jane to grow even more insane.
Each story elaborates on the importance of social class in the 19th century, how women were presented in society, and how society trapped and defined them as individuals. Maupassant conveys the importance of marriage during this time frame when he includes in “The Jewelry” that Mrs. Lantin’s mother visited bourgeois families in hopes of marrying her daughter off (Booth69). The public’s view on ...
Her insanity with the wallpaper is her only escape from John. In the end, Jane’s awareness of the oppression of women in society is apparent to her. By tearing down the one thing that was her escape from reality, the wallpaper, Jane is able to escape from the wallpaper and is finally able to declare her own identity as a woman. The reader assumes that Jane goes insane at the end of the story caused by her own writing and images in her mind, but I see that that Jane does not go insane but comes to the realization that she has been oppressed and forced to live under a dominant male, not being able to express her true identity. Gilman’s complex symbols used in “The Yellow Wallpaper” help create Gilman’s portrayal of the oppression on women in the nineteenth century. In revealing her self-expression she represents the oppression not only on her but on women in general during that time period..