The Wallpaper Is Quite the Lady; Gilman and Stereptypes

1266 Words6 Pages
The Wallpaper’s Quite The Lady; Gilman and Stereotypes Women have, since the beginning of recorded history been considered the “Other” while men have been considered the paradigm. The wallpaper in Gilman’s story is meant to depict this “Other”-ness as well as the repressive forces that a phallocentric society has imposed on women for centuries. Simone de Beauvoir, Susan Bordo, and Virginia Woolf present interesting and insightful ideas as to why Jane feels such a strong need to express her inner feelings in an outward manner. The wallpaper is meant to represent the feminine’s struggle to break free of the bonds that men have placed on them. Women are the “Other”, and therefore their essence is dependent on the essence of the male; where the male is alpha, the woman must be omega. Bordo discusses the idea that women are being forced to concentrate on the discipline of their bodies more and more each day than they ever were before. (2240-2241) She terms this fact as “diversionary and subverting” (2241) and Gilman’s character Jane transfers this need to exercise control over her own body from a need to control her physical being to a need to exercise control over her “abnormal” or “altered” mental state. In addition, it is pivotal to the story that John, Jane’s husband, is the one who has explicitly told Jane that she must change. This sets up the binary opposition of male and female, which helps mold the main tenant of Jane’s interpretation of the wallpaper: there is a woman being held back by complexities. It fits into the binary opposition insofar as the woman is held back by her desires and complexities because the man forces her to repress them. Beauvoir explains that women are confronted with binary oppositions as far as what a woman is. (1266) She says that, “if woman is depicted as the Praying Mantis, the Mandrake, the Demon, then it is most confusing to
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