Imprisoned in a mental bright yellow roomof her own husband’s scheme, the protagonist of the short story “TheYellow Wallpaper” written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman brought theattention of how women used to be seen and treated back in the 1800s.Stereotypes of how women should be the ones expected to house clean, raisechildren, takes care of the husband and do as they are told.
The theme of the storyis made clear through the characterization of John the protagonist’s husband,who is blinded by his dominated male ego that leads him to unintentionallyimprisoning his own wife in a room driving her to Sevier depression, no freedomof thought with a controlled environment. John, the narrator’s husband as thedominant partner he controls and determined all his wife’s decisions makingbecause he viewed her as an incapable as childlike begin. He treats her as aninferior as proven here: “John laughs at me, of course, but one expectsthat in marriage.
” John dismissed his wives complains about her mentalillness, and rather laughed it off in a very cruel way driving her to madness.The narrator wants to be saved and understood that she is ill, but John ironicallyenough is a physician who keeps ignoring his wife’s illness and not only thatbut is also is failing as husband who is meant to look after his wife.” Helaughs at me so about this wallpaper” (515), he constantly puts her downand it increases her insecurities making the matter worst. When John laughs atthe yellow wallpaper that to his wife symbolizes her depression, it is making astatement that it’s a joke and it does not exist.
The irony of the situation isthat the room is part of the problem; he simply boxed her in there tomiraculously get healed. Throughout time in the room, she notices the wallpaper” a smoldering unclean yellow, strangely faded by the slow turningsunlight” (514). After a couple of days, she notices the wallpaper isstarting to change. She sees “a woman stooping down and creeping aboutbehind that pattern” (518) The yellow wallpaper had a secret that only thenarrator could see.
Throughout the story, she gets obsessed with the wallpaperto a point she doesn’t want anybody to come in and disturb her from finding outthe secret. She later then starts to believe that there is a woman trappedbehind bars in the wallpaper. So, she and “the women” in thewallpaper rip the wallpaper off the wall so the women can escape.
Thissymbolizes the narrator longing to escape her delusional husband and all thehurt he is caused her by isolating her in that yellow dull room. In the end, she escapes “I’ve gotout at last” and I, “despite you and Jane. I’ve pulled off most ofthe paper, so you cannot put me back.
” At last, the narrator takes controlof her own thoughts, and John’s role as a strong, protective husband isdestroyed and he becomes weak and much like how a “woman” is meant to acthimself, “now why should that man have fainted?” (17) Seeing his wifein a state of madness and total loss of self-control. Finally accepting hiswife’s illness, the narrator reversed his role. John being shocked showed hisemotion which is supposedly not very manly, and finally coming to realize thathe was wrong.
With most the story taking place in the room that bringsnothing but insanity to the female protagonist. It is made clear that thefeminist point of view is made through the narrator’s surroundings. Herenvironment of the room is almost prison-like, she felt repressed by the barsand gates. John refuses to change her environment; he wishes to keep herimprisoned. But the most obvious use of setting to emphasize feminist viewscomes from the wallpaper itself. “At night in any kind of light, intwilight, candlelight, lamplight and worst of all by moonlight, it becomesbars” (10). The wallpaper itself represents the psychological barriers puton by society and her husband, and seen as a helpless weak linked woman shecould not stand for herself. As an escape mechanism, she devotes her entirewillpower, and thoughts to rip the wallpaper as she becomes closer to freedom.
Inconclusion, the “yellow wallpaper” is used to express the author’s feministview, demonstrating the physical and mental hardships that faced by women. Theideas that are expressed through John’s action and the setting of the storyrepresented the barriers and constraints society puts on women. It showed thatmental illness should be taken seriously and that women’s voices should begiven an equal opportunity to be heard.