Repression of Women Exposed in The Yellow Wallpaper

1873 Words8 Pages
Repression of Women Exposed in The Yellow Wallpaper The short story "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman gives a brilliant description of the plight of the Victorian woman, and the mental agony that her and many other women were put through as "treatment" for depression when they found that they were not satisfied by the life they had been given. In the late nineteenth century when the Yellow Wallpaper was written, the role of wife and mother, which women were expected to adopt, often led to depression or a so-called "hysteria". Women of this period were living in a patriarchal society where they were expected to be demure and passive, supportive yet unquestioning of their husbands, and…show more content…
"Mitchell's patients lost much of themselves as people" (53). Gilman herself, after sinking into a deep depression, was sent to Mitchell in Philadelphia for his rest cure. After a month of treatment Mitchell concluded that there was nothing wrong with her and sent her home with these instructions: "Live as domestic a life as possible. Have your child with you at all times. Lie down an hour after each meal. Have but two hours of intellectual life a day. And never touch pen, brush or pencil as long as you live." (Gilman, Autobiography 62). Gilman followed these instructions for several months until she came extremely close to losing her mind. Says Gilman of this time: "I made a rag baby, hung it on the doorknob and played with it. I would crawl into remote closets and under beds to hide from the grinding pressure of that profound distress." (63). It is exactly this situation that lead Charlotte Perkins Gilman to write her eerily accurate tale of one woman's forced regression into insanity. As the tale begins we immediately can sympathize with the repressive plight of the protagonist. Her romantic imagination is obvious as she describes the "hereditary estate" (Gilman, Wallpaper 170) or the "haunted house" (170) as she would like it to be. She tells us of her husband, John, who "scoffs" (170) at her romantic sentiments and is "practical to the extreme" (170). However, in a time
Open Document