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The Yellow Wallpaper By Charlotte Perkins Gilman

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman Charlotte Perkins Gilmans story, The Yellow Wallpaper, explores the restricted societal roles of both Jane and John. Gilman, a strong supporter of womens rights, focuses on her account with depression through this story (Hill 150). Traditionally, the man must take care of the woman both financially and emotionally while the womans role remains at home. Society tends to trap man and woman and prevent them from developing emotionally and intellectually. Although Gilman focuses on the hardships of the woman, she also examines the role of the man in society. Repression generated by social gender roles hinders men and women from acquiring self-individuation. The repression of Jane ties into her lack of exposure to emotional and intellectual stimulus.

Janes feminine emotions towards her environment aid in her restraint. Representing the dominance of masculinity over the restrained female, Jane observes the female figure, who looks as if she is behind bars, in the pattern of the wallpaper (1156). The woman who unsuccessfully attempts to climb out of the pattern symbolizes Janes frivolity in trying to alter feminine societal roles (1158). Significantly, the maternal instincts of Jane remain enslaved due to her surroundings. The nursery, containing windows barred for little children, represents the suppression of Janes motherly duties (1150). Jane is unable to take care of her own baby. The garden which Jane can view through her barred windows, stands for her fertility which she is incapable of obtaining (1149).

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Intentionally, Janes intellectual prowess remains held back. Beginning to write for a while in a journal against the wishes of those around her, represents the suppression of Janes attempt at creative stimulus (1149). The yellow wallpaper hinders Janes recovery in that it confuses her whenever she attempts to decipher its meaning (1151). Johns repression results from the absence of his feminine side. Spirituality, a part of the human psyche of which John lacks, accounts for his repression.

Jane feels that John has no patience with faith, justifying his stubborn behavior and the detraction of his masculinity (1148). An ideal attribute for one attempting to obtain self-individuation is a concern for faith, which is not present in John (1148). Johns scarcity of feminine emotions accounts for his repression. John shows no understanding of Janes need for an intellectual stimulus, signifying his lack of intuition (1150). For John, everything must be put down in figures (1148) in order for him to make sense out of anything, illustrating his stronghold on the stereotypically obstinate man (1155). The entrapment of Johns femininity, moreover, reveals his own repression.

Whenever Jane observes the moonlight John sleeps, acknowledging the idea that man is suppressed by the feminine aspects of the psyche (1155). Illustrating Johns determination to demolish the remaining fragments of femininity, John considers using the axe to destroy the beautiful door (1161). As a result of societal gender roles men and women have been restrained from achieving self-individuation. Both John and Jane lack attributes that society deems necessary for one to obtain self-individuation. Obviously, Jane has not been given the opportunity to exhibit her maternal or intellectual instincts because John and the rest of society feel that it would be absurd.

On the other hand, John is taken seriously by society because he is a man with authority; however, his femininity still is restricted by societal gender roles. Ultimately, for a true sense of fulfillment to be reached, society must accept the roles of its components, and halt the repression of the psyche.


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