Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “the Yellow Wallpaper”: the Use of Symbolism to Express the Psychological, Sexual, and Creative Oppression Experienced by Women in the Twentieth Century

3480 words 14 pages
Amber Gonzalez
English 2213
Melissa Whitney
Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper”: The Use of Symbolism to Express
The Psychological, Sexual, and Creative Oppression Experienced by Women In
The Twentieth Century
Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote “The Yellow Wallpaper” in the late 1800’s while being treating by the very trusted Weir Mitchell. During this time women were commonly admitted into the care of doctors by their husbands without their given consent. At this time there was very little research concerning Post- Partum Depression. According to the A.D.A.M Medical Encyclopedia, Post-Partum is moderate to extreme depression women may experience after giving birth. The symptoms include fearfulness,
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In “Gilman's 'The Yellow Wallpaper': A Centenary” Linda Wagner- Martin writes, “Of these many conflicts inherent in women's trying to lead acceptable female lives, perhaps the most troublesome is that of motherhood, its attendant responsibilities, and its almost inevitable loss of self-identity” (52). The A.D.A.M Medical Encyclopedia suggests that a common cause of Post-Partum Depression in women is the decreasing amount of time they have to themselves after having a child. Women of brighter minds were often misplaced in this type of society. Many artists feel an undeniable obligation to their work, often taking time away from their families. It was impossible for artistic women to prosper when their prime purpose in life was to marry and have children. Knight writes, “Gilman demonstrates how stifling the cult of domesticity was for intelligent women” (78). Jennie, Jane’s caretaker, represents this idea. Jane writes of Jennie, “She is a perfect and enthusiastic housekeeper, and hopes for no better profession” (Gilman 178). Jennie’s characteristics and tendency to stay out of Jane’s business resembles a fear felt by many women. While it was common for many intelligent women to become depressed due to creative and psychological oppression, fear often quieted any desires for change. It was widely understood that any woman who tried to live otherwise would just as easily end up in Jane’s predicament. Martin writes of the