On Feminism and ‘the Yellow Wallpaper’ by Charlotte Gilman

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On Feminism and ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ by Charlotte Gilman
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Feminism is based on the assumption that women have the same human, political and social rights as men, furthermore, that women should have the same opportunities as men in their personal choices regarding careers, politics and expression. A feminist text states the author’s agenda for women in society as they relate to oppression by a patriarchal power structure and the subsequent formation of social ‘standards’ and ‘protocols’. A feminist text will be written by a woman, and it will point out deficiencies in society regarding equal opportunity, and the reader will typically be aware of this motive. In a work of fiction, the main character, or heroine,
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In the world of yellow wallpaper, a woman would naturally be fascinated by a garden. Gilman’s character is a naíve, faithful wife who does as her husband instructs her to. She blames herself for being ‘unreasonably angry’ and is critical of her nervous disorder, as she is pressured to think so by her husband and doctors. Despite her intuitive objections, she agrees to treatment for her depression because her husband wishes her to.

It is the wallpaper, though, that is the focal-point of the story, and it holds within it many descriptive and fruitful metaphors for the insidious discrimination and oppression of women. With steady patience and a methodical rhythm, Gilman exposes more and more insight into the meaning of the wallpaper throughout the story. She uses a slow and steady pace to release tidbits of metaphor that clue the reader to see the wallpaper as a symbol of male authority. The main character’s fascination with the ugly paper begins as an innocent annoyance, builds to a pastime, and crescendos to an obsession. The beauty of the story, however, is that this build-up is very subtle, and only after reflection and contemplation can the symbols of the wallpaper be seen. Indeed, the character in the story cannot recognize them herself, and it is the struggle to see what is in the wallpaper that moves the reader along.

The text is
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