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Symbolism In The Yellow Wallpaper, By Charlotte Perkins Gilman

In “The Yellow Wallpaper” Charlotte Perkins Gilman uses symbolism to explain the purpose of the wallpaper, and why it’s one of the largest symbols in the story. The narrator is part of the wallpapers symbolism and the reason why it deprives such a massive part in the story. The women trapped behind the wallpaper explains the mental block men attempted to place on women “The Yellow Wallpaper” is a symbol of the restriction on women, the struggle for equality, and the possibilities of the female sex during the 1800’s.
Charlotte Perkins Gilman prepares her readers to experience many life troubles the narrator is going through by putting her story in first person. Nevertheless, most have no idea what women went through, back in the 1800’s. Women…show more content…
The idea she gives in her article based on Gilman not having the same view as the novel “Jasmine”. There is depression in one and freedom in another, but the comparison that they both have are merely on women trying gain there freedom back. Women equality had was a great issue to women back then, especially, when a situation explained in “The Yellow Wallpaper” the narrator does not understand that she is the one trapped behind the wallpaper behind those bars. Nadkarni explains, “the story charts the narrator ‘s growing madness and preoccupation with the wallpaper of her sickroom and ends with her identification with the woman she sees “crawling” (55) behind the “bars” (52) of the prisonlike pattern” (219). She discovers the narrator as an insane woman who does not understand that who she discovers behind the wallpaper is she on reflection; she is the one escaping from her own miserable life. In her article Nadkarni feels as though Gilman “suggests that “the white, female, intellectual-class subjectivity which Gilman ‘s narrator attempts to construct, and to which many feminists have also been committed perhaps unwittingly, is a subjectivity whose illusory unity, like the unity imposed on the paper, is built on the repression of difference” (220). Nadkarni article explains women struggle for equality, and the struggle to gain…show more content…
While she is in this room, her health gets worse and worse but her husband thinks she is getting better and that she is just imagining things. In John S. Bak’s article, he explains the room as a drain to the women’s life because she has locked is this room and has no options on leaving. Bak explains how the room with the wallpaper can, “reduce an artistic and articulate woman to be a beast, tipped entirely of her sanity and humanity and left crawling on all fours in circuits, or smooches about the room” (Bak 39-40). In his article, he explains how Elain Hedges on interpretation on feminist and how she portrays the wallpaper that is living inside the narrator as spirit. Hedges on view during 1973 that the “paper symbolizes her situation as seen by the men who control her and hence her situation as seen by herself (Afterword 51), a view echoed by later critics” (Bak 40). Hedges also said, “‘The Yellow Wallpaper,’ then, became a feminist text that indicated the men who were responsible for the narrator’s physical confinement and subsequent mental demise” (Bak 40). Another writer in Baks article has his view of the symbolism of the wallpaper, “but this is also a room not unlike that described by Michel Foucault in Discipline and Punish (1975), patterned after Jeremy Bentham’s eighteenth century Panopticon” (Bak 40). In Baks article as you see, there are

Male View of Hysteria Presented in The Yellow Wallpaper

Male View of Hysteria Presented in The Yellow Wallpaper

Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” has been viewed as either a work of supernatural horror or as a feminist treatise regarding the role of women in society. A close analysis of Gilman’s use of symbols reveals “The Yellow Wallpaper” as her response to the male view of hysteria from ancient times through the nineteenth century. ” In “The Yellow Wallpaper” Gilman questions the validity of Hippocrates’s theory of the wandering uterus and Weir Mitchell’s “rest cure”. As she wrote in her essay “Why I Wrote the Yellow Wallpaper?”, “[the story] was not intended to drive people crazy, but to save people from being driven crazy…” (107). By her own account, Gilman’s purpose in writing “The Yellow Wallpaper” was to educate and inform the public of the misinterpretation of hysterical symptoms.

The origin of the word hysteria expresses the belief in the inferiority of women. As James Palis writes in The Hippocratic Concept of Hysteria: A Translation of the Original Texts: “Etymologically, the term usteria (hysteria) derives from ustera (hystera), the Greek word for uterus, which means an inferior position. Thus, usteria denotes suffering of the uterus, the most inferior organ in the female” (226). The fact that the literal translation of hystera is “inferior position” reinforces the fact that from ancient times women were viewed as physically inferior to men.

Since the one major physical difference between women and men is the presence of the uterus, psychological problems that were considered to be strictly female were attributed to some malfunction of the uterus. Hippocrates first proposed in his work “The Art of Healing”that hysteria wa…

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—. “The Yellow Wallpaper”. American Realism Reader. Ed. James Nagel and Tom Quirk. New York: Penguin Books, 1997. 254-269.

Hothersall, David. History of Psychology. 3rd Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Inc., 1995.

Meyer, Cheryl L. The Wandering Uterus: Politics and the Reproductive Rights of Women. New York: New York University Press, 1997.

Mitchell, S. Weir. “Fat and Blood”: The Yellow Wallpaper. Women Writers: Texts and Contexts. Ed. Thomas L. Erskine and Connie L. Richards. New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1993. 105-109.

—. “Wear and Tear”. The Yellow Wallpaper. Women Writers: Texts and Contexts. Ed. Thomas L Erksine and Connie L. Richards. New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1993. 109-111.

Palis, James., et al. “The Hippocratic Concept of Hysteria: A Translation of the Original Texts.” Integrative Psychiatry 3.3 (1985): 226-228.

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