The Struggle for Power in "The Yellow Wallpaper, " "Daddy, " and "Editha"

2112 WordsMay 5, 20139 Pages
American Literature 9 March 2013 The Struggle for Power in "The Yellow Wallpaper," "Daddy," and "Editha" Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s piece, “The Yellow Wallpaper” (written in 1890, published in 1892), is a semi-autobiographical piece that, although believed to be a result of her severe postpartum depression, illustrates the difficulties faced by women during the Women’s Movement. These difficulties are further illustrated by the similarly semi-autobiographical poem, based on Plath’s father and husband, “Daddy” by Sylvia Plath (written in 1962, published in 1965). These gender roles are then reversed in “Editha,” (written in 1898, published in 1905) which has been said to be William Dean Howells’s response to the Spanish-American War.…show more content…
The initial description of this woman is of her “stooping down and creeping about.” The woman in the wallpaper is a direct reflection of the narrator’s confidence and feelings of inferiority, and the change they undergo. Initially, the woman in the wall symbolizes the narrator’s fear of presenting herself and her opinions, and being her husband’s equal. She begins to display a building confidence in herself, and an almost amused view of John's orders. When John tells her that she seems to be doing well, in spite of the wallpaper, she has to stop herself from openly laughing. It is at this point, where she is building confidence in herself, that she begins to see the woman in the wallpaper more clearly. She states, “I think that woman gets out in the daytime! And I’ll tell you why — privately — I've seen her!” symbolizing her confidence beginning to emerge. Finally, she allows herself to be fully confident; she allows her mind to fully explore the wallpaper. The lines, “then I peeled off all the paper I could reach standing on the floor. It sticks horribly and the pattern just enjoys it,” symbolizes the destruction of that which limits her. One may argue that she has had a psychotic break, but the intention of these lines is to show the narrator gaining confidence. As Gilman says herself in an article submitted to the October 1913 issue of The Forerunner regarding her treatment: “then, using the remnants of intelligence that remained […] I cast the noted

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