“A MASTERPIECE OF AMERICAN FEMINIST LITERATURE”

by Contributor

(Nov. 21, 2019) — The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman that was published in 1892 is nothing other than a masterpiece of American short prose. It is an extremely important work within the framework of feminist literature of the United States as it deals with the issues of physical and mental health of females. Given the time it was published, it can be easily stated that the story was a breakthrough not only in American but world literature. If you are a student who is tasked with the tall order of writing a review of The Yellow Wallpaper, you may face considerable difficulty because the story’s message is hidden between its lines. However, this article has been written in order to help you understand what The Yellow Wallpaper is all about.

Narration and Plot

The story is narrated in the first person and represents a collection of journal entries made by a woman who remains unnamed for most of the story. Her husband has rented a mansion for her to spend the summer and recharge her physical and mental batteries. As soon as the spouses move into the mansion, they settle in a nursery situated on the second floor of the house. The husband forbids his wife from working and encourages her to get a lot of fresh air, eat healthily, and think positively, so she could regain her strength to fight the depression of which she had become a victim.

The story describes an extremely difficult period in the life of a young woman who suffers from a serious disease. Nonetheless, the epoch that she lives in does not consider the psychological well-being of women to be a serious problem. As a matter of fact, research paper topics about The Yellow Wallpaper are quite copious online. They do not boil down to the disclosure of the problem of women in American society of that time. If you are interested in The Yellow Wallpaper research paper samples, you can always check it yourself, as there are numbers of examples of research paper topics about The Yellow Wallpaper online.

Moving on, John, the lady’s supportive but not-that-understanding husband refuses to change his mind on the stance that it is in his wife’s best interest to have a rest and thus cure herself of her psychological demons. After she gave birth to their baby, she began suffering from an acute form of nervous depression, or so-called hysteria.

As has been already mentioned, the couple was living in a nursery on the second floor of the mansion where they spent the entire summer. Nonetheless, the state of the very room seems to be suspicious as there are bars on the windows, the wallpaper is torn, and along with a scratched floor, there are metal rings hanging from the walls. Although the narrator supposes that such a lamentable state of the room resulted from the fact that children used to live there, the author does her best to make sure that the readers remain unsure as to the exact reason for all the damage done to the room.

Symbolism

A great deal of the author’s attention in this story is devoted to the wallpaper and, namely, its smell. The wallpaper leaves yellow stains on the skin and clothes of anyone who would touch it, and this is quite symbolic. If you are interested in reading more research paper samples about symbolism in The Yellow Wallpaper, you can do it here. The online world features all the information one might need in regard to analyzing this story.

That wallpaper represents a woman within society. Once you were born a woman in the United States of the 19th century, there was no way back for you. You were considered the victim of stigma by default. It was only men who had the right to state that they were tired or ill, and it was all because of women. Meanwhile, a woman had to be healthy and carry the weight of responsibility for the family on her own shoulders. It is the same as with the yellow smears that the wallpaper was leaving on people, the smears that were incredibly hard to wash off or remove.

Soon, the woman starts seeing a pattern of another woman on that wallpaper, and she leaves herself with no other choice but to free that imaginative lady from her captivity. On their final day in the mansion, the narrator locks herself in the room, tears the remainder of the wallpaper down and states to her husband that she is now free. Nonetheless, she becomes entrapped in a serious psychological disease which she could have cured but for her husband who knew “better” what she needed.

The Main Idea

In her short story The Yellow Wallpaper, Charlotte Gilman talks about women. However, the pivotal peculiarity of her work is that she talks about women in a way in which none of her contemporaries dared to do at the time.  The constant need for self-expression that the women of 19th-century America felt on a daily basis became the main source of Gilman’s inspiration. Jane, the narrator (as her name emerges several times in the plot) is not able to express herself because her husband has already done it for her. Of course, the readers are represented with a story about a loving and caring husband who takes proper care of his wife. Nonetheless, nobody wants to pay attention to the fact that he does not even ask her what she actually wanted or needed. She wants to express herself, but she cannot.

Conclusion

The Yellow Wallpaper is without a doubt a masterpiece of American feminist literature, as it was written at a time when being a feminist was equal to being a culprit. Gilman was not afraid to speak about the problems of women the way that women saw them, not in the way that men considered it proper to deal with them. John’s actions eventually worsened the situation and led Jane to having to deal with an aggravated form of her illness. The story is none other than a direct manifestation of how men of the 19th century only pretended to listen to women.

 

 

 

 

 

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