Before society, dominated by men, started to acknowledge the importance of treating women equally, females were not perceived as intelligent and worthy creatures in many countries. Indeed, the oppression of females is a vast and horrifying process that was especially active in the 1890s (Özyon 115). This topic is discussed in the short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. In this short story, Perkins Gilman wanted to demonstrate that it was typical for men to only see their female partners as weak, emotional, and hysterical, ignoring their authentic cues and messages.
“The Yellow Wallpaper” by Perkins Gilman is a short story narrated by a highly expressive and imaginative woman diagnosed with depression. Indeed, in late nineteenth-century America, most females’ conditions were referred to as nervous depression. She is forced to stay in her room and take medications. The narrator claims that “congenial work” can help her recover faster, but men do not listen to her (Perkins 1). Although she loves her room, the wallpapers cause her hallucinations, and the narrator sees that “all those strangled heads and bulbous eyes and waddling fungus growths just shriek with derision!” (Perkins 13). Even though sometimes the narrator herself doubts the severity of her state, she still understands that her husband is wrong and his treatment harms her.
It is evident that Perkins negatively reacts to the misogyny tendencies in society. It seems that Perkins’s purpose was to show that women should not be locked up in rooms but must be allowed to work to prevent them from becoming insane (Roethle 147). Moreover, Perkins shows that the main character’s husband does not believe in her symptoms and makes her take useless medications to control his wife. The author does not comment that this attitude toward women is terrible. Still, she describes the protagonist’s depression as the dangerous state of mind that resulted from the lack of a job, and this situation appeared because the woman’s husband did not want her to work.
In summary, the short story by Perkins Gilman is a critique of the misogyny and patriarchy of the nineteenth century. The author depicts a situation where the husband does not believe in his wife’s symptoms and refuses to recognize her serious condition. Perkins Gilman tries to show the severity of humiliating women and not taking them seriously. Overall, “The Yellow Wallpaper” demonstrates the adverse consequences of men not treating women equally.
Özyon, A. “A journey of feminist rebellion through Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story The Yellow Wallpaper and her novel Herland.” International Journal of Language Academy, vol. 8, no. 5, 2020, pp. 115-124.
Perkins Gilman, Charlotte. The Yellow Wallpaper. Gothic Digital Series, 1892.
Roethle, Christopher. “A Healthy Play of Mind: Art and the Brain in Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper”.” American Literary Realism, vol. 52, no. 2, 2020, pp. 147-166. doi: 10.5406/amerlitereal.52.2.0147