Women's Identity and Independence in The Yellow Wallpaper
Although "The Yellow Wall-Paper" is fiction, it can be considered
almost like Gilman's autobiography since Gilman's life seemed to parallel
her main character's life. What Gilman was trying to express in this work
is women's fight for identity and independence (professional work) which
are stripped from them by marriage and motherhood. (p799)
In the story, a woman who just gave birth had some complications which resulted in her so
called "hysteria" or nervous condition. She's not allowed to do anything
but stare at some yellow wall-paper until she ultimately loses her mind.
The narrator, who will be referred to as Gilman for simplicity's sake, is
a writer who is unable to write due to her motherhood. "I did write for
a while in spite of them; but it does exhaust me a good deal-" (p801) It
was this motherhood that brought her illness so she couldn't write.
shows how just being a woman is difficult to have a career. Her husband,
John, always tried to keep her in her room without anything to do but
recover from her illness. Without anything to do, especially her writing,
Gilman saw this as being held back from becoming her true self. "John is
a physician, and perhaps ...perhaps that is one reason I do not get well
faster." (p801) She had to be sneaky about writing or else John would find
out. "-having to be so sly about it, or else meet with heavy opposition."
Because of this "prison" that she was in, Gilman started to see
images in the yellow wall-paper that she stared at day-in and day-out.
The images she "saw" were a woman, and then women trapped behind the
yellow wall-paper. "The woman behind shakes it!...