Social Criticism in The Yellow-Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

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Social Criticism in The Yellow-Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Traditionally, men have held the power in society. Women have been treated as a second class of citizens with neither the legal rights nor the respect of their male counterparts. Culture has contributed to these gender roles by conditioning women to accept their subordinate status while encouraging young men to lead and control. Feminist criticism contends that literature either supports society’s patriarchal structure or provides social criticism in order to change this hierarchy. “The Yellow Wallpaper”, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, depicts one women’s struggle against the traditional female role into which society attempts to force her and the societal reaction
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Men often times did not know much about their wife, or care to sit down and talk with her. They did not take great care to know how she was doing, or why she was feeling the way she was. The woman says, “John does not know how much I really suffer. He knows there is no reason to suffer, and that satisfies him.” The woman is showing a small amount of frustration towards her husband, because he does not concern himself with such “small things”.

The role of women in society was displayed quite clearly by the entrance of John’s sister. The woman writes, “There comes John’s sister. Such a dear girl as she is, and so careful of me! I must not let her find me writing. She is a perfectionist and enthusiastic housekeeper, and hopes for no better profession. I verily believe she thinks it is the writing which makes me sick!” John’s sister is representative of the typical woman. A woman who is pleased with her life, and wishes for no more. John’s wife, however, is rebelling on her place in society by writing. This is why she includes the statement; “…I verily believe she thinks it is the writing which makes me sick!”

Women were quite noticeably looked down upon in years past. The quote from
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