The theme of The Yellow Wallpaper

373 Words2 Pages
The theme of “The Yellow Wallpaper” is the oppression of women. It enters into the gender debate in many ways. Men were naïve, just as much as women, of the gender’s true capabilities. Many times, people look back and blame the men for the slavish treatment of women- and in a way, it was they who were closed minded to the thought of an independent women, but they were in a world where no one knew any different. This is proven in “The Yellow Wallpaper” because it is obvious that John truly adores his wife and never mistreats her (physically), but he sees her as valued property or a helpless child- definitely not a independent thinker. When she gets up in the night, he says, “What is it, little girl?” (Gilman 814). and advises her not to walk around like so or she will get a cold. In fact, when she tries to explain her symptoms or express that she is not improving, he replies, “she shall be as sick as she pleases!” (Gilman 814). Women of the time were not allowed to think for themselves, and while many were treated like angels of the house, others were married to unfaithful husbands or men who thought it was their job to “punish” their wives. It is easy to see how this could lead to depression- and because depression was not discovered as an illness back then, men thought women were just silly for letting themselves get down all the time. This was the case in “The Yellow Wallpaper” and the lack of true help from her doctor husband lead the narrator to mental illness, it made her crazy. The theme is also reinforced by the hallucinations the narrator has- the lady trapped in the wallpaper. This is he subconscious showing through. During the day, the narrator talks greatly of her husband and believes that he is helping her- but at night she sees the trapped lady always trying to get out- and in the last part of story she actually believes she is the woman from the paper.

More about The theme of The Yellow Wallpaper

Open Document