During the 19th Century, the society confined women in homes as housewives and mothers. Men were allowed to venture outside the home to fend for the family. Men were considered authoritative; they made decisions on behalf of their families. Charlotte Gilman explores the mind of a woman who struggles to tear the layers of wallpaper placed by the society. She struggles after giving birth to her child to liberate the opinionated and intellectual woman within her from the societal myth of male superiority.
Contrary to the belief of her counterparts, she believes “that congenial work, with excitement and change, would do her good” (783). She serves to meet her societal responsibility with much love, but the absence of personal freedom makes her feel like a “formless sort of figure, that seems to sulk about behind (the) silly and conspicuous front design” (786) of an ideal housewife. She finds writing a convenient intellectual output for her fancy thoughts. She becomes a prisoner to the wallpaper at the nursery. She grows gradually to become defiant to the restrictive rules around her, the clearer she saw the woman behind the wallpaper. The wallpaper serves to help her in defining her own person. However, the change alarms those around her. Her brother and husband believe she has a nervous disorder. None of them realizes the conflict within her between the woman she feel she is and the woman she is supposed to be.
Finally, it is mindful to note the statements about feminism and individuality the story has sought to unveil. Gilman takes the reader through the fright of a woman’s neurosis. He develops the plot through eerie descriptions of the yellow wallpaper. The entire story is captivating due to the varied use of symbolism. Among Gilman’s writings, “The Yellow Wallpaper” stands out as the most intriguing of all.
Gilman, Charlotte. The yellow Wallpaper. Hartford: Thomson/Wadsworth, 1998. Print.