Literary Analysis The Yellow Wallpaper

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ENG110                                                                                                                                
As it would appear The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is a narrative describing the trials a woman faces when battling PPD (postpartum depression). However, under further investigation it is clear that the meaning Gilman imposes on her audience is the concept of entrapment to amplify the absurdity of male dominance in the 17th C. Opposing characteristics of the female main character and her husband, in conjunction with imagery and the metaphor of “the woman in the wallpaper” collaboratively work to express the standards expected of a woman and the feeling of isolation evoked by powerlessness.
The central character of The Yellow Wallpaper is our narrator who serves as both mother and wife. Her role in the story is contrasted by the leading male character her husband, John, a physician. However their union seems less like a marriage and more like the relationship one would see between parent and child. Like a parent, John is very controlling and patronizing in contrast with our main character, who is submissive and compliant like a child. Furthermore, John, although he is caring and loving, really doesn’t take his wife seriously. In this time period PPD was not discovered. So we see our main character and we feel her pain, we know she is suffering because she can feel within herself that something is not right. She makes countless attempts to tell her husband this, and he continuously shrugs her away, constantly reassuring her that it is a “temporary nervous depression- a slightly hysterical tendency”(Gilman 987).The use of the word hysterical here is literally referring to her disorder, but figuratively he is essentially saying that she is hysterical regardless of ill health or otherwise; simply because she is a woman. Because of this she feels powerless “and what is one to do?”(987). Indeed, what is one to do in...

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