"Reaching the Top of the Walls" "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Essay by kefx2University, Bachelor'sA+, April 2004

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When reading "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, one can not help but to take notice of Gilman's use of symbolism to convey more than just a story of an insane woman. This story signifies the oppression that many women felt during this time period.

In the beginning of the story, we are introduced to a woman and her husband, John, a Doctor. Even this early in the story we can begin to see John as a symbol of authority. Our narrator says how he laughs at her ideas, "...but one expects that" . He represents the typical man of that era. He treats his wife as if she is a child. He refers to her as things like "a blessed little goose" and a "little girl". John believes that his wife has a temporary nervous depression, although she does not believe herself to be sick at all.

Even John's diagnosis of his wife's condition symbolizes his superiority over her. Our narrator, (John's wife) goes on to tell us "he is very careful and loving, and hardly lets me stir without special direction" . Because of his wives condition, John tells his wife to get lots of rest and to do almost nothing at all. Our narrator needs permission from John to do just about anything, he oppresses her and her desires.

Another Character that we see a glimpse of in this story is John's sister Jennie. John relies on Jennie to take care of his wife during the days and while he is away. Jennie conveys the idea of what a woman "should" be during those times, the ideal housewife. She is what John expects his wife to be like. She is described as "A perfect and enthusiastic housekeeper, and hopes for no better...