Women and 19-Century Domesticity in 'The Yellow Wallpaper'

1951 Words8 Pages
American Literature II 2120
25 March 2013
Women and 19-Century Domesticity in “The Yellow Wallpaper” “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is a short story about a new mother attempting to overcome her diagnosis of depression by being cooped up in a room without normal human interaction as prescribed by a top-rated male psychologist. The gender role expected of the nineteeth century woman was not ideal to the main character. The story goes on to critique the treatment plan set forth by her husband and psychologist. This in turn critiques the entire belief system in the nineteeth century that women should not be working outside the home. Gilman reveals in “Why I Wrote ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’?” that the story parallels one of
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The emotions inside of her need to get out and her so called psychologist is forcing her to keep them in. The men in this time did not understand why a woman would ever want to do anything but stay in the home and the fact that she didn’t meant she was going or already insane. They forced her into domesticity until it eventually drove her mad. She begins to obsess over the wallpaper and the woman trapped inside. While no one is watching, for fear of getting into trouble for her foolish actions, she peels the wallpaper slowly to help the woman escape. She acts so normal when the husband is around just like a puppet. Pretending to be the prefect housewife and mother he has expected her to be all along. The wallpaper design is a metaphor for the men in society keeping women in their accepted role in life in the nineteenth century. Gilman especially wanted out of this role and wanted to show the way for the rest of women who were stranded in these roles, like she was.
In the early nineteenth century, women were expected to be, “‘angels in the house,’ loving, self-sacrificing, and chaste wives, mothers and daughters or they are… ultimately doomed” (King et al. 23). Women of this time were supposed to be domestic creatures and not tap so far into their intellectual abilities (King et al.). The role of women in the nineteenth century is described:
From the 1840s on, architects, clergymen, and other promoters of the so-called cult of domesticity had idealized the

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