Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” Story Analysis
Before society, dominated by men, started to acknowledge the importance of treating women equally, females were not perceived as intelligent and worthy creatures in many countries. Indeed, the oppression of females is a vast and horrifying process that was especially active in the 1890s (Özyon 115). This topic is discussed in the short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. In this short story, Perkins Gilman wanted to demonstrate that it was typical for men to only see that their female partners were weak, emotional, and hysterical, ignoring their authentic cues and messages.
“The Yellow Wallpaper” by Perkins Gilman is a short story narrated by a highly expressive and imaginative woman diagnosed with postpartum depression. Indeed, in late nineteenth-century America, most females’ conditions were referred to as nervous depression, which is the first sign that the story deals with misogyny. The narrator is forced to stay in her room and take medications, even though her husband does not believe her condition is severe (Perkins 1). The narrator claims that “congenial work” can help her recover faster, but men do not listen to her (Perkins 1). Although she loves her room, the wallpapers cause her hallucinations, and the narrator sees that “all those strangled heads and bulbous eyes and waddling fungus growths just shriek with derision!” (Perkins 14). Even though sometimes the narrator herself doubts the severity of her state, she still understands that her husband is wrong and his treatment harms her.
It is evident that Perkins negatively reacts to the misogyny tendencies in society. As mentioned above, it was common for men of that time not to take females and their issues seriously and treat them as always weak, too emotional, and hysterical creatures with nervous depression. It seems that one of Perkins’s purposes in this short story was to show that women should not be locked up in rooms but must be allowed to work so that they do not become insane.
Indeed, the readers can see the narrator being treated with rest and the absence of any worries. However, it can be assumed that precisely such a way of life during the previous years of marriage led her to this state, and now the husband treats the narrator with the cause of her illness (Roethle 147). Females need to be busy, have responsibilities, and engage in various activities so that their emotions and feelings are released safely and none of them are suppressed to be further developed into illnesses. Overall, the author describes the narrator’s depression as the dangerous state of mind that resulted from the lack of a job.
Another problem discussed by the author is the tendency among men not to listen to women’s opinions. Perkins shows that the main character’s husband does not believe in her symptoms and makes her take useless medications to control his wife (1). Even when the narrator tries to talk about her state’s deterioration, express her fear of the wallpaper, and ask to move to another room, her husband perceives her words as nonsense. Overall, this is a rather terrible tendency that results in the lives of many females becoming miserable and almost meaningless. Notwithstanding gender, all people must have the right to express their opinions and be listened to and heard. There should be equal respect and trust, especially between relatives and spouses. However, the narrator’s husband and brother think they know better and no woman can have serious thoughts about serious topics. In the short story, the author expresses her negative attitude to such behaviors and shows the consequences of males not treating females as equals.
In summary, the short story by Perkins Gilman is a critique of the misogyny and patriarchy of the nineteenth century. The author depicts a situation where the husband does not believe in his wife’s symptoms, refuses to recognize her serious condition, and does not want to allow her to express her opinion even about the room she lives in. Perkins Gilman tries to show the severity of humiliating women and not taking them seriously. Overall, “The Yellow Wallpaper” demonstrates the adverse consequences of men not treating women equally.
Özyon, A. “A Journey of Feminist Rebellion Through Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Short Story The Yellow Wallpaper and Her Novel Herland.” International Journal of Language Academy, vol. 8, no. 5, 2020,
Perkins Gilman, Charlotte. The Yellow Wallpaper. Gothic Digital Series, 1892.
Roethle, Christopher. “A Healthy Play of Mind: Art and the Brain in Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper”.” American Literary Realism, vol. 52, no. 2, 2020, pp. 147-166.