The Yellow Wall Paper By Charlotte Perkins Gilman Essay

1471 WordsDec 23, 20166 Pages
Prescribed The gender roles of the 19th century formed the foundation of societal norms for marriages. The prescribed idea of what marriage should look like focused on the wife’s obedience to her husband and family. This obedience that the speaker has for her husband, John, in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story “The Yellow Wall-Paper” undermined the woman’s mental health, refusing her the ability to express and speak for herself. The speaker’s diagnosis and treatment of her “nervous condition” was completely in her husband’s control, taking away her independence as a person. It becomes clear that Gilman is writing this short story as a response to the patriarchal structure of the society she was living in. The speaker is constantly attempting to escape the patronizing attitudes and ideas of her husband, who frequently uses terms one would normally use when speaking to a child, by speaking to his wife this way John is asserting power and control over her. For example, “Then he took me in his arms and called me a blessed little goose, and said he would go down cellar, if I wished, and have it whitewashed into the bargain.” (“The Yellow Wall-Paper, 1302) and ‘” What is it, little girl?” he said, “Don’t go walking about like that – you’ll get a cold.”’ (1305). The “rest cure” required her to give up all activities, even writing, and aimed to reduce her to the dependency of an infant again. One line in particular captures how the infantilizing of a grown woman can take
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