Charlotte Perkins, the author of The Yellow Wallpaper, spent most of her time advocating for women’s rights. She wanted equal representation in every aspect: socially, economically, and politically. Her utmost focus was on the inequality established after marriage.
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She argued that women’s obligation to remain in the house while their husbands went to work was unfair and, asserting that it barred women from utilizing their knowledge and intelligence. She proceeded to explain that the fact that women stayed at home the same way as servants could not make anyone happy.
Unless she got her freedom, nothing in the house would run smoothly. The ideology of true womanhood made women suffer in silence; however, it was phased out for the new womanhood. Gilman tries to show how men dominate the marriage institution, but in the end, what is displayed is the ways women are weak and let men control them.
The Prison Nature of Marriages
In my opinion, the owner displays her inabilities throughout the text; it is not a matter of whatever she is going through. She further claims how the man influences her decisions and that whatever man says, she has to listen, notwithstanding its validity. This displays her inabilities as a woman giving the man more power and control. The narrator seems to have conflicts with her inner self; she thinks that women should be given an option to make decisions in the family and assumes her role as a true woman.
The woman in this narration has allowed herself to be controlled and not by man alone. She has failed to recognize that she is the driver of her own life, and blame should not be put on man. Although the man tries to control her as it is traditionally, the woman has to take it as her responsibility to control herself.
The major conflict in the narration comes about when the doctor, who is also the narrators’ husband, struggles with her over the nature of her illness, which she believed resulted from her struggle with dissimilarity in their marriage institution. As a result, she terribly desires to express herself and make her complains known to the husband (Gilman, 6).
The narrator tries to express her views on what she wants to do while she is sick, but her husband insists that she must get enough rest. This brings the point of conflict between the narrator and her doctor partner. John does not believe in her wife’s creativity, and that is why he does not allow her to use her talent. It seems like he is forcing her to quit writing and focus on being a wife and a mother.
Therefore, she is not able to work her creativity and ends up drawing the wallpaper that represents a depressed woman (Gilman, 15-20). Still, the husband cannot believe her capability, resulting in the conflict. It shows how sometimes men can be disobliging to their wives and how they may lower their self-worth.
The narration is a display of the prison nature of marriages established by men. Marriages have locked up women from pursuing their dreams and made them useless to the community at large. Men view their wives as unimportant, just as John did to his partner, making them have no other means of escaping their roles as mothers and wives. John is simply a reflection of society and the marriage institution. The story illustrates the effects of confinement on the narrators’ depression problem.
Gilman, Charlotte. The Yellow Wallpaper. 1973. South Carolina: Forgotten Books. Pp 1-63. Print.