Theme of The Yellow Wallpaper

Essay by XxCrisisxXUniversity, Master'sA+, January 2004

download word file, 4 pages 1.0

Downloaded 130 times

The Yellow Wallpaper

Charlotte Perkins Gilman's story "The Yellow Wallpaper" is an account of a mentally disturbed woman and her husband's attempts to help her get well by convincing her that continual seclusion and constant bed rest is the only way to cure her psychological condition. The woman is then confined to a room in which she slowly begins to go insane. "The Yellow Wallpaper" is not so much a description of female insanity as it is a story that explores a female's standing in society in the late 1800s.

During the time in which Gilman's piece was written, women were not often prominent figures in society. Men frequently dominated them, and it was rare to find a very outspoken female willing to stand up for her own well-being. This is the narrator's main problem in the story. She has never been told to advocate her own ideas and stand up for herself, so it is no wonder that she naturally accepts what her husband tells her.

For example, when he suggests that her nervous condition can be cured with excessive quantities of rest, she accepts this and agrees to separate herself from others until she is well again. Part of the issue deals with self-worth and the woman's ineptness with self-esteem. For instance, at one point in the story the woman states, "Personally, I disagree with their [John and her brother] ideas. Personally, I believe that congenial work, with excitement and change, would do me good. But what is one to do?" The last sentence displays the woman's constant inability to stick up for herself when she has ideas that differ from those of the influential males in her life.

When the narrator tells her husband that the room she is being restricted to...