The following essay is an analysis of The Yellow Wallpaper, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, using feminist criticism.

Essay by tachycardic4u December 2002

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Feminist Reading of The Yellow Wallpaper

Images of women creeping around behind wallpaper that is yellow and grotesque, defiled by esoteric patterns with images of bulbous eyes and strangled heads sounds like either the work of a brilliant impressionist or the ravings of a lunatic. While the story may overtly appear to indicate the latter possibility, closer examination reveals that the wallpaper is not merely an obsession of a deranged woman, but a metaphor for a patriarchal culture that completely constrains women and limits their freedom.

The narrator's credibility is first undermined when she says of her husband " John laughs at me, of course, but one expects that in marriage" (667). This line shows that not only does her husband not take her seriously, but that marital inequality is a normative occurrence. Her husband laughs at her desires and beliefs, but she feels she has no power to change her secondary status.

" ... He scoffs openly at any talk of things not to be felt and seen and put down in figures" (667). The only thing that is palpable in society is male domination, and the facts and figures are also dominated by men. If John cannot see beyond the literal, to embrace faith in change, there is no reason for the narrator to believe that she can change his worldview, even though she disagrees with his ideas.

The narrator is not permitted to write. Her physician husband insists that it is a detriment to her health. "I did write for a while in spite of them; but it does exhaust me a good deal - having to be so sly about it, or else meet with heavy opposition" (667). This indicates that the author has a desire to break free from the oppressive dictates of her...