The Yellow Wallpaper Critique
“I meant to be such a help to John, such a real rest and comfort, and here I am a comparative burden already!” (Perkins-Gilman). The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins-Gilman is a story of a suppressed woman finding the strength to express herself. It has a very strong feminist message, meant to encourage all women to express themselves.
Charlotte is mainly known for her strong feminist views and journalism. The Yellow Wallpaper is based on Charlotte’s own experience with depression dn how suppressed she felt. Using feminist criticism, the reader can analyze Charlotte Perkins-Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper through the narrator’s character, symbols, and settings. “Personally, I believe that congenial work, with excitement and change, would do me good. But what is one to do?” (Perkins-Gilman).
Here, the narrator shows that she knows what’s best for herself, but being a woman and in a suppressive marriage; she cannot do what she wants. She must obey her husband’s commands, because he knows what’s best. “She is a perfect and enthusiastic housekeeper, and hopes for no better profession. I verily believe she thinks it is the writing which made me sick!” (Perkins-Gilman). Now, the narrator is chastising the housekeeper for her suppressed role. She believes the housekeeper could do better with her life and feels that she is foolish for wanting such a demeaning job and for siding with her husband.
“I’m getting really fond of the room in spite of the wall-paper. Perhaps because of the wall-paper” (Perkins-Gilman). The main symbol in the story is the yellow wall-paper. At first, the narrator was frightened by it, but as time goes by she comes to like it. She starts seeing patterns and shapes in it that entices her imagination beyond what she’s used to.
“‘I’ve got out at last,’ said I, ‘in spite of you and Jane. And I’ve pulled off most of the paper, so you can’t put me back!'” (Perkins-Gilman). The narrator, who is assumed to be Jane, is ‘free’ from her suppressing role now that she has conquered the wallpaper. Her independent, expressive side is out now and she feels it was both her husband, John, and her suppressed self that was suppressing her within the wallpaper. “That spoils my ghostliness, I am afraid, but I don’t care—there is something strange about the house—I can feel it” (Perkins-Gilman). When she first arrived, the narrator can feel that there’s something different, maybe even sinister, about the house.
When she mentioned this to her husband, he just rebuked her and she silently took it. “If we had not used it, that blessed child would have! What a fortunate escape! Why, I wouldn’t want have a child of mine, an impressionable little thing, live in such a room for worlds” (Perkins-Gilman). The narrator again feels the sinister feeling and she’s glad that her baby doesn’t have to sleep in the room. She feels that it’s her job to deal with the blunt of the strangeness that is the room with the yellow wallpaper. Based off of the narrator’s character, the symbol of the wallpaper, and the setting, Charlotte Perkins-Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper can be analyzed using feminism criticism.
One can learn how a suppressed female role in an old-fashioned marriage can change a woman. At the end of the story, the narrator seemed to be insane from her confinement, but she was content with herself and her freedom. The story is significant because it has a strong feminism message that showcases how horrible a suppressed relationship can be.