Raven Symoné

Raven Symoné

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

El Papel Pintado Amarillo (idk why i did this)

Charlotte Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper follows the deterioration of Jane, a nineteenth century middle-class woman. Many take Gilman’s story as a gripping thriller, purely for entertainment. But, as literary critics delved into the story, something much deeper and haunting was revealed. Gilman bravely shed a light on something not often discussed: the docile and domestic role of women during her era. By showing the dangers of the submission of women, and how it essentially leads to madness, Gilman was able to point out the issues in gender roles almost seamlessly. So, why did this all happen to Jane?
            There are various instances in the story that push Jane’s mental deterioration further and further, but the one occurrence that stood out the most was her husband, John’s, complete and utter infantilization of her. An example of his treatment of her follows: “I got up softly and went to feel and see if the paper did move, and when I came back John was awake. ‘What is it, little girl?’ he said. ‘Don't go walking about like that--you'll get cold’” (Gilman 4). Through many quotes just like this, calling his wife “little girl” and more, John completely disregarded Jane’s intellectual capacity as an adult (which we knew was present as she demonstrated knowledge of advanced architecture various times throughout the story) and dumbed her down to the level of a child. Gilman represented the woman during this time as nothing but a baby, placing Jane in a nursery and giving her no control whatsoever. By doing this, Gilman was able to emphasize the absolute lack of independence and power women had, pushing on the obvious fact of the underestimation of women, perhaps her goal in writing The Yellow Wallpaper.
            This story fits right in to the context of the nineteenth century. With women as nothing more than a tool, a domestic slave used for elementary tasks, Gilman does a fantastic job in emphasizing not only the reality of life for women during her time, but the unbelievable dangers of their treatment. The Yellow Wallpaper is an amazing story that was years beyond its time in regards to gender roles. Gilman touched on the issues relating to women in a subtle yet thrilling way that causes the reader to contemplate the larger issues and assumptions of men’s superiority in our society. Technically, this story could be extrapolated to society today. Although we are amazingly close to gender equality, women continue to fight for their rights to equal pay and more each day. Gilman’s lesson on the dangers of gender roles not only applicable today, but encourage women to continue their fight against their age-old assumptions of domestication.

Works Cited
Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. The Yellow Wallpaper. N.p., n.d. United States Library of

Medicine. Web. 11 Mar. 2015.


  1. Good post--I especially like your bolding of the disturbing line in which the husband calls his wife "little girl"! But I do think your claim that in this era women were seen "as nothing more than a tool, a domestic slave used for elementary tasks" is a bit of an oversimplification of the ideology of the time period. It was more complex than that--and more insidious. Remember, women were praised, put on a pedestal, for keeping the "light of home" alive…many women bought in to this system--they wanted to hold up what they viewed as an important part of the social contract. If this idea of motherhood and homemaker had not been held up as a higher calling, it would have been easier for individuals to break free from that narrow mold.

  2. Well done Jake. I completely agree with your idea that The Yellow Wallpaper resonates best with the nineteenth century instead of today's society. Since the status of women have changed drastically over the years, it only makes sense how people could relate to the situation more. However, people today can still look back towards this short story for its morals along with its goals to address a growing problem during its time period.

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