A Feminist in Action in The Yellow Wallpaper

1779 Words 8 Pages
"The Yellow Wallpaper," by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, depicts a woman in isolation, struggling to cope with mental illness, which has been diagnosed by her husband, a physician. Going beyond this surface level, the reader sees the narrator as a developing feminist, struggling with the societal values of the time. As a woman writer in the late nineteenth century, Gilman herself felt the adverse effects of the male-centric society, and consequently, placed many allusions to her own personal struggles as a feminist in her writing. Throughout the story, the narrator undergoes a psychological journey that correlates with the advancement of her mental condition. The restrictions which society places on her as a woman have a worsening …show more content…
This attitude that the narrator possesses is demonstrated throughout the story by her refusal to confront her husband. Although she frequently disagrees with his prescription for treating her illness, she never openly questions his skills as a physician. She writes in her journal, "Personally I disagree with [his] ideas...but what is one to do?" (Gilman 577). This quotation epitomizes the inability of women in previous centuries to express their thoughts and feelings.

The inability of the narrator to communicate her wishes and feelings is a recurring theme in the story. The lack of expression that the woman displays plays a key role in the worsening of her illness. The narrator tells her husband that she feels uneasy in the house, but his response is that her uneasiness is the result of a draught, and he will shut the window. In another instance, the narrator expresses her dissatisfaction with the yellow wallpaper, and all her husband can respond is, " You know the place is doing you good..." (Gilman 579). This response from the husband contributes to the building psychosis of the narrator. The woman does what she can to make her husband see her problems, but in the end this effort is in vain because he believes, as a physician, he knows what is best for her. As a result of this fact, the woman struggles to cope with her everyday life, which in actuality is leading her