The short story named Yellow Wallpaper is about a woman who suffers from a psychiatric illness but is unable to recover due to her husband’s lack of confidence. The novel was published at a time when women were in poverty and were seen as second-rate members of society. According to Perkins, “there is no feminine consciousness, and the brain is not a sex organ.” To him, there is little distinction in attitude between male and female, as illustrated in this story. He wrote the novel The Yellow Wallpaper, basing his points on feminist critique (Gilman and Potter 25). This paper analyzes ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ story basing the argument on the dialogue of both men and women characters perspective as well as through the symbols utilized in the story.
To begin with, the story can be argued to advocate for the plight of women and their right to speak and act for themselves, and that failure to have these rights leads them to deep depression resulting in madness as it does for the Narrator believed to be Jane. During the time of the story, women were supposed to be delicate and prone to mental illness when subjected to intense stress. The story portrays men to view women as young kids rather than grown up individuals. The view is demonstrated where the Narrator said, “If a physician of high standing, and one’s own husband, assures friends and relatives that there is really nothing the matter with one but temporary nervous depression_x0085_slight hysterical tendency_x0085_.what is one to do? ” John typically made her wife a conventional by imposing his views on her (Gilman and Potter 25).
From the women perspective, Gilman shows two sides of the women through dialogue. Women conformist goes together with the belief that female are subservient to male and this is clearly demonstrated when Jane says, _x0093_I meant to be such a help to John, such a real rest and comfort, and here I am a comparative burden already!_x0094_ This means the Speaker_x0092_s feeling is that she has become a burden to John her husband since she does not like the Wallpaper yet all she could do is to complain about it knowing she has vowed not to change it (Gilman and Potter 25). She is also blaming herself for not being able to adapt to her room John made her to live in even after finding answers to her problems, which includes changing wallpaper or rooms _x0096_ a solution John denies. Finally, the Narrator breaks through the conventional ways as the story end and she narrated, “I have got out at last,” said I, “in spite of you and Jane. And I have pulled off most of the paper, so you cannot put me back._x0094_ That conversation shows that the Storyteller felt that she and her family was in captive or trapped, but eventually, she managed to break through and start acting for herself making her the female hero of the story (Gilman and Potter 25).
Symbolism is another aspect Gilman has used in this story. Yellow Wallpaper is a symbol representing imprisonment of the Narrator. The Narrator demonstrates this when she says, _x0093_The faint figure behind seemed to shake the pattern, just as if she wanted to get out_x0094_ (Gilman and Potter 25). The narrator repeatedly begged to remove the yellow wallpaper to make the room conducive for her but John, her husband refused her, and he also refused her to change the room. This makes the Narrator remained confined in a room she despises hence feeling like a prisoner.
In conclusion, “Yellow Wallpaper” clearly demonstrates the plight of women especially in the hands of their husbands and the struggle they have to put forward in order to be heard and listened to. By analyzing the dialogue in the story through men aspect, feminine aspect, and aspect of symbolism, one is able to understand the feminist criticism in the early days. “Yellow Wallpaper” is among the important short stories that advocated for the women rights as long as history is concerned (Gilman and Potter 25).
Gilman, Charlotte P, and Kirsten Potter. The Yellow Wallpaper: And Other Stories [sic]. Manufactured and distributed by] Findaway World, LLC, 2012.