Yellow Wallpaper Gender Roles

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“The Yellow Wallpaper” is a feminist short story written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. This story has an interesting perspective on how women in the 19th century was viewed. The main character which is a women narrator whose name was never mentioned in the story plays the role of a woman that seems to be going through post-partum depression and how it was treated back then. As “The Yellow Wallpaper” describes how the women felt trapped and limited in her role in society. Gilman transformed her experience to recognize how gender roles were viewed back in the 19th century and the treatment of mental health disorder. Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote this feminist short story to provide the reader with the insight of a woman that was being controlled by his husband and couldn’t really express herself during that time, this led the women to her own sanity. Explaining how women back then felt misunderstand of the mental health condition and were restricted from doing stuff. Keep in mind that men were viewed by society as the dominant gender and how in marriage men were expected to rule over their wives.

Women, on the other hand, were viewed by society basically as being responsible for all housework and childcare. This gives the reader a good perspective of what Gilman's story is trying to represent stereotype gender roles in the 19th century. However, “The Yellow Wallpaper” describes the narrator which was suffering from post-partum depression was not allowed but was secretly expressing herself in her journal during her rest cure also known as the bed cure assigned from her husband John that is her physician. Basically, a rest cure was a strategy for the patient not to enforce any type of physical activity or mental stimulation. John believed that the best room for her wife was an upstairs room which had bars in the windows and yellow wallpaper. In the story, the narrator describes the room in her journal and how she felt about her husband. Although John dearly loved and cared for her wife, he wasn’t aware that the rest cure was just driving her wife mad.

During the 19th century, women felt captive at home and felt like they did not have any growth beyond that point. This deprived the freedom, expression, and individuality of women in the 19th century and caused them to feel like they didn’t have any identity to themselves. The narrator tells her story in a secretly way throughout her journal which she records all her thoughts and her obsession with the yellow wallpaper. During that time, she starts to figure out the design and eventually ends up imagining a pattern which she describes a woman behind prison bars. Gilman is trying to represent that the narrator is starting to feel locked in and becoming more fixated with the women behind the bars. This clearly describes a metaphor that the narrator is losing her mind in the room and how she pictures herself like the women behind the bars, trapped and no way out. Women in the 19th century eventually felt trapped in society just as the narrator describes her feelings of the room. How the narrator expresses how the room feels like a prison and alone, this symbolizes how women felt during a marriage. Women back then had no voice over the voice of their spouse which means they felt subordinated to male authority.

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Yellow Wallpaper Gender Roles. (2020, May 14). Retrieved December 4, 2023 , from

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