Posted: February 16th, 2023
From page one readers can see the oppression imposed on our protagonist by both her husband John and physician S. Weir Mitchell as they dictate what kind of treatment should be prescribed without giving any consideration to what the patient wants or needs. This authoritarian attitude reinforces traditional Victorian gender roles where men are seen as superior beings with absolute control over their wives; as John says at one point “there must be no half-way house between [his] position and hers” (Gilman). This exemplifies how patriarchy strips away agency from women within these societies; instead of being viewed as independent individuals capable of making decisions for themselves it appears that society deems them only fit to follow orders set forth by men.
This idea carries through even in the very setting itself: an old colonial mansion with yellow wallpaper which has been described as “repellent… revoltingly [and] unmistakably alive! A smoldering unclean yellow […] It slinks away […] Gives back none of [the heroine’s] thoughts” (Gilman 3). These details paint a vivid picture wherein our heroine finds herself trapped in a world full of male voices telling her what she should do while also feeling inhibited from actualizing her true potential because society has stripped away all autonomy from her feminine identity- essentially turning into something akin to living wallpaper stuck against a wall observing life going on outside without having any direct input into it whatsoever.
It appears then that The Yellow Wallpaper serves not only as social commentary regarding mental health issues but also serves up feminist themes around gender equality within these particular elements suggesting ultimately need for change begin offering freedom every member so may able live life according chosen paths despite whatever restrictive expectations imposed upon them outsiders
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