Oppression And The Wall Paper

2506 words - 11 pages

Oppression, Patriarchy & Psychosis

The nineteenth century was a time of male domination and female suppression. Women faced economic, social, and freedom of rights barricades. Before the domino effect of women activist and feminists rocketed toward a glass ceiling, woman kind stood oppressed by society, oppressed by their husbands and families, oppressed by patriarchy and the law. “The Yellow Wallpaper”, by Charlotte Gilman, is a story representing the weight of patriarchal society that still lingers today; it motivated the female mind of creativity and mental strength through a patriarchal order of created gender roles and male power during the nineteenth century.
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No main stream religion had ever, nor would ever, allow a woman to lead and make decisions after her sister’s mistake in the Garden of Eden (Lanser). Main stream society has always been influenced by main stream religion. Women’s gender roles (Kendal 343) were learned from a young age. Education would be substituted with learning motherly skills and how to be a fair and impressive housekeeper. As a result, females wouls aspire to be the best women and properly and successfully fill her ‘role in life’. Jenny, the narrator’s sister-in-law, shows us the conformed housekeeper who could “hope(s) for no better profession” (Gilman 906). As the industrial revolution matured and technology increased, many of revolutionized opportunities arose for women. Some females were able to work. THey may have felt it a privilege or a disgrace; either way, women continued to face male capitalism. If wages were even paid to women workers, “wage gap” (Kendal 361) was present between males doing the same job. After work, a “second shift” would be worked upon a woman’s arrival home so they could also fulfill their responsibilities as a housekeeper (361). In the opening line, the narrator suggests that John and she follow society’s normal patriarchal order by telling the audience and readers that they are “mere ordinary people.” John shows us how ordinary he is and the narator continues throughout the story in a battle with doing what is right or doing what should be right.
The yellow wallpaper symbolizes the patriarchal society restrictions and imprisonment of women in a patriarchal society. ‘Like all good metaphors, the yellow wallpaper is variously interpreted by readers to represent the pattern which underlies sexual inequality, the external manifestation of neurastenia, the narrator’s unconscious, the narrato’s situation within patriarchy,” (Treichler 192). The narrator paints a vivid picture of her surroundings for her readers. The audience is offered the view of an isolated, bounded house “standing well back from the road,” (Gilman 903). The house is surrounded by “hedges and walls and gates that lock,” (903). Out of all the land, rooms and closets, she is restricted to a single room where the “...windows are barred for little children, and there are rings and things in the walls” and a gnawed bed nailed to the ground. She continues to depict the ugliness of the furniture and the floor; “But, I do not mind it a bit- only the paper,” (906). Among imprisoning, depressing and trashy conditions, the only element of the environment that harassed and restricted her enjoyment of her hostile stay was the wallpaper. The wallpaper was said to be worse than the prison characteristics it is compared to. This demonstrates the effect and forrce patriarchy has in her life. As the narrator becomes more aware of the male forces, the wallpaper begins to reveal itself more and more. At night, bars become visible and there is a woman trapped behind the “horrible wallpaper”. “The...

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