Enclosed Women

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Enclosed Women: On the Use of Enclosure Imagery by 19th-Century Female Authors to Expose Societal Oppression
Hannah Carlson
The theme of enclosure is not uncommon in the literary writings of nineteenth-century female authors. Scholars have suggested that it was used as a way to portray the figurative imprisonment these women felt in their own lives. Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar, in their groundbreaking work The Madwoman in the Attic, comment on the use of ―obsessive imagery of confinement‖ and how it ―reveals the ways in which female artists feel trapped and sickened both by suffocating alternatives and the culture that created them‖ (64). The dominating force of patriarchy and the societal restrictions of the time prevented women
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The story begins with the female protagonist writing in a journal about the house her husband John has rented for the summer. John, a physician, has diagnosed his wife with a nervous disorder and prescribes rest and relaxation in solace to cure her. She comments on the style of the old house, saying that it is ―a colonial mansion, a hereditary estate‖ and would even venture to call it ―a haunted house,‖ which foreshadows unusual occurrences that happen later on in the story (372). The house and bedroom where the protagonist stays is an example of spatial enclosure as it is isolated from other people and she is literally enclosed within both. The image of the house is an important element for it symbolizes the ownership males had over females. ―For not only did a nineteenth-century woman writer have to inhabit ancestral mansions (or cottages) owned and built by men, she was also constricted and restricted by the Palaces of Art and Houses of Fiction male writers authored‖ (Gilbert and Gubar xi). The narrator of ―The Yellow Wallpaper‖ moved in consequence to her husband‘s orders to a home that was built by men and which had been owned, and was now rented, by a man. A second layer of male ownership of females is exemplified in this story when John tries to restrict his wife from writing. The literary

canon included primarily male-authored
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