“The Yellow Wallpaper” Essay Outline
1. Only recently did women begin to get recognized as equals to men and in some places they still are considered as inferior. Men are typically dominating and controlling, while women are more submissive.
“The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, uses confining imagery, belittling dialogue, and stereotypical characters to demonstrate the gender roles in nineteenth-century America. 2. The imagery in this short story conveys the feelings of a person confined and trying to break free.
Jane is a woman whose imagination is limited by the patriarchal society. a. “The windows are barred,” (Gilman pg. 8) there are rings in the wall, and “the floor is scratched and gouged and splintered” (Gilman pg. 11). i. She is staying in a prison, symbolic of the way society is a prison to her creative inner self. b. Through the barred windows, Jane can see the open country, which only makes her reflect on the freedom she does not have (Shumaker pg. 596). c.
The wallpaper is an image of the barrier she must put up between the women society expects her to be and the women she wants to be. 3. The belittling and condescending way in which John speaks to Jane reflects the way that men dominated over women. a. John calls Jane “little goose” (Gilman pg. 10) as though she were a baby. John is superior to her. b. John calls her mental illness a “fancy. ” He does not really believe she is sick and is only playing along the way a father would play along with his child’s imagination. . Finally evolves into John speaking in a calm, careful tone as to not frighten Jane when she finally goes crazy. 4. The carefully constructed character of a typical man and women show the roles society expects of John and Jane. a. The names John and Jane are carefully picked out to portray a standard man and women. They were very popular names back in the day and when an unknown corpse was brought in they were given the standard name John Doe or Jane Doe. b.
The characters of the rational doctor and imaginative wife help portray assigned gender roles. Women are imaginative and creative, while men are rational and like common-sense things (Shumaker pg. 590). c. John was a physician and so was Jane’s brother. It was a man’s job and women are only good for household jobs. 5. “The Yellow Wallpaper” was clearly written during a time when men dominated society and women were thought of as silly and imaginative. This short story demonstrates how some women had the feeling of confinement in a patriarchal society.