Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “the Yellow Wallpaper”: the Use of Symbolism to Express the Psychological, Sexual, and Creative Oppression Experienced by Women in the Twentieth Century

3480 Words14 Pages
Amber Gonzalez
12/6/11
English 2213
Melissa Whitney
Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper”: The Use of Symbolism to Express
The Psychological, Sexual, and Creative Oppression Experienced by Women In
The Twentieth Century
Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote “The Yellow Wallpaper” in the late 1800’s while being treating by the very trusted Weir Mitchell. During this time women were commonly admitted into the care of doctors by their husbands without their given consent. At this time there was very little research concerning Post- Partum Depression. According to the A.D.A.M Medical Encyclopedia, Post-Partum is moderate to extreme depression women may experience after giving birth. The symptoms include fearfulness,
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This scene displays the lack of self-expression and freedom women encountered.
Creativity in women was not widely accepted in Gilman’s society and was often deemed improbable. In one of Jane’s entries she describes, “There comes John, and I must put this away he hates to have me write a word” (Gilman 175). This sentence is powerful because the written word is often more powerful than the spoken word. Women were rarely given the luxury of speaking freely, much less writing freely. John’s reluctance to allow Jane to write illustrates the narrow minded ideals men had concerning women. In “Why I Wrote the Yellow Wallpaper,” Gilman writes that Dr. Mitchell, “ concluded there was nothing much the matter with me, and sent me home with solemn advice to "live as domestic a life as far as possible," to "have but two hours' intellectual life a day," and "never to touch pen, brush or pencil again as long as I lived’”(51). Both Gilman and Jane were creative women that used writing as therapy to express what others around them could not understand. Jane’s journal and her writing symbolize the creative talents and intelligence many women were capable of but were forced to conceal.
Gilman contradicts the idea of women being married to make great “mothers” with the statement, “And yet I cannot be with him” (Gilman 177). Jane is referring to her

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