The Yellow Wallpaper: Women’s Rights in the Nineteenth Century

2672 Words11 Pages
A house is not a home if no one lives there. During the nineteenth century, the same could be said about a woman concerning her role within both society and marriage. The ideology of the Cult of Domesticity, especially prevalent during the late 1800’s, emphasized the notion that a woman’s role falls within the domestic sphere and that females must act in submission to males. One of the expected jobs of a woman included bearing children, despite the fact that new mothers frequently experienced post-partum depression. If a woman were sterile, her purposefulness diminished. While the Cult of Domesticity intended to create obliging and competent wives, women frequently reported feeling trapped or imprisoned within the home and within societal…show more content…
The structure of the text, particularly evident in the author’s interactions with her husband, reveals the binary opposition between the façade of a middle-class woman living under the societal parameters of the Cult of Domesticity and the underlying suffering and dehumanization intrinsic to marriage and womanhood during the nineteenth century. While readers recognize the story for its troubling description of the way in which the yellow wallpaper morphs into a representation of the narrator’s insanity, the most interesting and telling component of the story lies apart from the wallpaper. “The Yellow Wallpaper” outwardly tells the story of a woman struggling with post-partum depression, but Charlotte Perkins Gilman snakes expressions of the true inequality faced within the daily lives of nineteenth century women throughout the story. Although the climax certainly surrounds the narrator’s overpowering obsession with the yellow wallpaper that covers the room to which her husband banished her for the summer, the moments that do not specifically concern the wallpaper or the narrator’s mania divulge a deeper and more powerful understanding of the torturous meaning of womanhood. The diction Gilman employs relates directly to the lasting role of women in the home to expose the historical adversities endured within the domestic sphere. The intricacy with which Gilman composes the text highlights the inherent
Open Document