Analysis of the Short Story the Yellow Wall Paper

Analysis of the Short Story the Yellow Wall Paper

Bros 07/01/2013

British Literature – Essay

What does Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s story « The Yellow Wallpaper » suggest about middle-class women’s place and roles in this society?

Though « The Yellow Wallpaper » is a fiction which aims at denouncing the

« resting cure” used for insane people by the physician of the Victorian era, we can find

in this short story lots of characters who symbolise the Victorian values, especially the

roles and places that women had to respect in the Victorian society. Indeed, through

her fictional character who writes in her secret diary, Charlotte Perkins Gilman

invites the reader with a privileged access into the domestic sphere of an insane young

middle-class woman with a lot of irony and symbols to denounce more effectively the

subordination of women in marriage and the rigid distinctions between the gender

functions of the 19th century.

At first, the narrator focuses her attention on the methods used by her husband

John to make her feel better. The accumulation of things she must do or take (“So I take

tonics, and journeys, and air, and exercise”) reveals the very patronizing voice of her

husband, and the confusion over « phosphates or phosphites » shows that she is not

really interested in this medical establishment and that she does not agree with « their

ideas », so John’s and her family’s. Indeed she thinks she would need the exact opposite,

activity and stimulation but she does not say it to anyone, and actually she cannot say it

to anyone : no one would believe her, even not her husband who “does not believe” she’s

“sick”, which once again demonstrates that people did not attach importance to women’s

points of view in the Victorian society, because their roles were...

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