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Symbolisms Of Oppression In Gilman'S "The Yellow Wallpaper"

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Symbolisms of oppression in Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper"

During the Victorian period women were viewed as objects. Upper middle class women were not allowed to be intellectual or work. Charlotte Perkins Gilman was an oppressed woman who wrote about the hardships of being a woman in a male dominate world. The symbolism in Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper" depicts the feelings of oppression of a Victorian woman.

The narrator in Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper" is infatuated with the wallpaper in her "colonial mansion" (531). The protagonist sees what she is "quite sure it is a woman" (538) trapped behind the wallpaper. The woman changes by day and night. "By daylight she is subdued, quiet" (539), however, "at night in any kind of light, in twilight, candlelight, lamplight, and worst of all by moonlight, it [the wallpaper] becomes bars! The outside pattern I mean, and the woman behind it is as plain as can be." (538). The protagonist sees a woman who represents every Victorian woman, a woman who must be proper and quiet, still and subdued. The Victorian woman was not allowed to think openly in society, but could only think in complete secrecy. Her ideas and views were thought to be ridiculous and insignificant.

Many Victorian women wanted to have an education and be able to express their beliefs and opinions; however, they were not allowed to. Some women thought that if they could not express themselves they were as good as dead. "It [the wallpaper] strangles so; I think that is why it has so many heads. They get through, and then the pattern strangles them off and turns them upside down, and makes their eyes white!"(540). The outside of the wallpaper symbolizes society and culture. When a Victorian woman tries to go against the traditions of the day then she is an outcast in her class. As an outcast a woman does not only affect herself but also her husband and family name.

Gilman gives the illusion that the wallpaper is a prison. "The front pattern does move- and no wonder! The woman behind shakes it.... I think that there are a great many women behind," (540). Since the Victorian women were not allowed to be intellectual because of the mere fact that they were women, women would think in private and then publish their ideas and writings under a man's name; however the women were never given credit for their ideas.

"If only that top pattern could be gotten off from the under one!" (541). The top pattern of the wallpaper symbolizes society. When hanging wallpaper you have the ability to pull the paper off the wall



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