Need help with your Assignment?

Get a timely done, PLAGIARISM-FREE paper
from our highly-qualified writers!

Analyzing The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Analyzing The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Being comfortable in individual identity is a luxury many have not had a chance to experience. The journey to self-discovery is one that varies uniquely individually, as depicted in ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Many factors play a part in identity formulation, including gender roles, society, race, culture, and family, among many more. In ‘The Yellow Wallpaper,’ the unnamed woman, John’s wife, begins her journey to self-discovery when she starts journaling to ease her mind. The yellow wallpaper initially did not sit well with her, but by the end, she discovers the woman trapped behind the pattern of the yellow wallpaper, commencing the end of the self-discovery journey. It is on this journey that many of the story’s themes are illustrated, including mental health and gender roles, depicted by the characters and the relationships in the story. Gilman, being a feminist writer, creates a feminist perspective as depicted in the story severally through the characters and themes such as gender roles, societal expectations, and power dynamics.

The feminist perspective is depicted in ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ story through gender roles. Gender roles are a huge part of societies, groups, families, and individual identities. People’s actions and behavior are all dependent on the roles assigned based on their gender. The story displays gender roles through the protagonist, her husband, John, and Jennie. The narrator puts forward that John is not only her husband but also a physician by stating, “..a physician of high standing, and one’s own husband..” (Gilman 862) in addition to being a father. Also, the narrator stipulates the numerous ways John takes care of her and loves her, as was expected of married males at the time. In contrast, the narrator is not permitted to indulge in creativity or work of any kind, stating that John “hardly lets me stir without special direction” and “John laughs at me, of course, but one expects that in marriage” (Gilman 864). She is presented as a submissive wife who does as her husband dictates, and John is a domineering husband. Also, while up in the nursery, the narrator is saddened that she cannot take care of her child as is expected of other mothers, showcasing gender roles in parenting and marriage. While John could be away for hours, there was no expectation or retribution on the same. Further, John made all the decisions for the family (Özyön 118), including where they would be staying and the room they slept in, while when the protagonist posited her ideas and opinions, John mostly laughed it off, maintaining his decisions as the ones to be followed. This shows how women’s rights were close to nonexistent. All these illustrations show how gender roles affect identities and experiences (Aman et al. 155) in the story as wives and mothers.

The feminist perspective is depicted in ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ story through societal expectations. Society creates several norms, rules, or expectations that members of that society must abide by. Social expectations stem from class, culture, age group, and location, among many more factors. The story paints a clear picture of the social expectations in the context of the protagonist’s society. For instance, in the first line, the narrator states, “It is very seldom that mere ordinary people like John and myself secure ancestral halls for the summer” (Gilman 862), establishing their social status and positioning the societal expectations based on social stratification. Additionally, the binary gender roles affirm societal expectations; for instance, all the physicians mentioned in the story are male, including John and the narrator’s brother. In contrast, the women mentioned in the story, such as Mary, Jennie, and the narrator, do not have such jobs but act in their capacity as women; the narrator is reduced to only a wife and a mother, being prohibited even to write by both her husband and Jennie who is also a woman. Mary takes care of the protagonist’s child, and Jennie helps with house chores. The story also presents the difference between masculinity and femininity; for instance, the narrator gauges her husband’s mood before beginning a conversation, stating, “I though it was a good time to talk, so I told him” (Gilman 871) showing societal expectations for behavior in marriages guiding the interactions between husbands and wives. These examples, among many more, show the societal expectations of women at the time.

The feminist perspective is depicted in ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ story through power dynamics. In the entirety of the story, it is established time and time again that John has the most power. It is apparent that gender roles and societal expectations are vital contributors to the power dynamics in the story. This domination, as stipulated by Aman et al., is the “prioritization of masculinity over femininity, and the devaluation of traditionally feminine qualities and activities” (155). John’s masculinity is depicted in the statement, “Now he’s crying for an axe” (Gilman 878) to break down the door to the nursery when the narrator locks herself in. John also illustrates autonomy in the manner in which he addresses his wife with names such as “little girl” (Gilman 871) and laughs at her comments, which, in many cases, wound up in the narrator crying. Concerning the narrator’s illness, John dismisses all her voiced opinions, emphasizing his capacity as a physician, with the stipulation, “..perhaps that is one reason I do not get well faster” (Gilman 862) because she follows all his directions. In addition, the physicians’ take on mental health does not depict awareness of the same, given the remedies they all recommend and how easily John brushes off talking about his wife’s illness. This leads to the oppression the narrator feels, pushing her to secretly journal and self-discovery as the woman behind the pattern on the yellow wallpaper. John is not the only one with the patriarchal society perspective, as is the case with the narrator’s brother and Weir Mitchell, to whom John threatens to send the narrator if she does not get better. Moreover, the hidden rope and the peeling of the wallpaper represent the liberation from the oppression the narrator had been feeling, and eventually, she is free.

In conclusion, The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is a feminist literature piece that showcases the state of society and its people. The family of the narrator depicts the society at the time and how oppressed women were. Despite being a married woman with a child, the protagonist in the story was not heard when she spoke, was forbidden from writing or any other form of creativity, and was limited to carrying out wifely and motherly duties. This oppression calls for feminist analysis, examining the characters and relationships in the story. From the story, power dynamics and patriarchal oppression are shown in John’s character, who, in the position of a husband, takes care of everything while making all the decisions, leaving his wife with little to no say. Gender roles and societal expectations influence power dynamics. Societal expectations deem what is right and norm for people and are, in many cases, influenced by gender and gender roles, as shown in the story. Subsequently, avoiding autonomy and creating women’s rights for them to be heard calls for women to be free.

Works Cited

Aman, Maria, et al. “Analyzing the Theme of Loneliness and Oppression in the Yellow Wallpaper Through Feminist Perspective.” Pakistan Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences, vol. 11, no. 1, Feb. 2023, pp. 153–59.

Gilman, Charlotte  Perkins, et al. “The Yellow Wallpaper.” The Norton Field Guide to Writing with Readings and Handbook, 5th ed., W. W. Norton & Company, 2019, pp. 862–878.

Özyön, Arzu. “A Journey of Feminist Rebellion Through Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Short Story The Yellow Wallpaper and Her Novel Herlan.” International Journal of Language Academy, vol. 35, no. 35, Jan. 2020, pp. 115–24.


We’ll write everything from scratch


Assignment Overview:

Engage in a detailed literary analysis of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper.” You are expected to explore the text from a specific analytical perspective, supporting your claims with evidence from the text and at least two secondary sources. Your essay should be a minimum of 800 words and follow MLA formatting guidelines.

Analyzing The Yellow Wallpaper

Analyzing The Yellow Wallpaper

Step 1: Choose Your Analytical Perspective

Select one of the following analytical perspectives for your essay. Each perspective offers a unique lens through which to explore the themes, characters, and literary devices in “The Yellow Wallpaper”:

Feminist Analysis:
Explore the story through the lens of feminist literary criticism. Consider how gender roles, societal expectations, and the treatment of mental health are portrayed in the narrative. Analyze how the protagonist’s experience reflects broader issues related to women’s rights and autonomy.
Psychoanalytic Analysis:
Apply psychoanalytic theory to analyze the protagonist’s mental state and the symbolism of the yellow wallpaper. Consider the repression of desires, the impact of societal norms on the individual psyche, and the manifestation of unconscious thoughts in the story.
Symbolism and Imagery Analysis:
Focus on the symbols and imagery present in the text, particularly the yellow wallpaper. Analyze how the wallpaper functions as a symbol and how its changing patterns reflect the narrator’s mental state. Explore the use of other symbols and images in the story.

Step 2: Conduct Close Reading and Take Notes

Read “The Yellow Wallpaper” closely, taking notes on key themes, characters, and literary devices. Pay attention to details in the text that support your chosen analytical perspective. Consider the significance of specific passages and the overall narrative structure.

Step 3: Research and Select Secondary Sources

Locate at least two scholarly articles or critical essays that align with your chosen analytical perspective. Ensure that the sources are reputable and provide insights that will enhance your analysis. Include proper MLA citations for these sources in your essay.

Step 4: Develop a Thesis Statement

Craft a clear thesis statement that outlines the main argument of your essay. Your thesis should succinctly convey the analytical perspective you’ve chosen and the key elements you will analyze in the story.

Step 5: Outline Your Essay

Create an outline that organizes your analysis logically. Ensure that you have distinct sections for the introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. Each body paragraph should focus on a specific aspect of your analysis, supported by evidence from the text and secondary sources.

Step 6: Write Your Essay

Begin writing your essay following the MLA format guidelines. Introduce your analysis, provide context for your chosen perspective, and present your thesis statement. Develop each body paragraph with a topic sentence, evidence, and analysis. Use quotes from the primary text and secondary sources judiciously.

Step 7: Incorporate Secondary Sources

Integrate your secondary sources into the analysis, ensuring that they support and enhance your arguments. Properly cite the sources within the text and include a Works Cited page at the end of your essay.

Step 8: Revise and Edit

Review your essay for coherence, clarity, and grammatical accuracy. Ensure that your analysis is well-supported, and that each paragraph contributes to the overall argument. Seek feedback from peers or instructors if possible.

Step 9: Finalize Your Works Cited Page

Compile a Works Cited page that includes proper citations for both the primary text (“The Yellow Wallpaper”) and your secondary sources. Follow the MLA format for Works Cited.

Order Solution Now