The Yellow Wallpaper is an essay that portrays the woman’s perspective in a subjugated role. The first passage describes the trees and the aesthetically pleasing atmosphere, which represents the stereotypical view of a nineteenth-century woman.
To compound this, she is subject to her master, her husband. To the woman, the master is wiser (as he is a good doctor), physically superior, and controls social situations while preserving order” by acting as a “man” should. This perspective is inferior for the standard human being, as it is a state devoid of rights or self-worth. The woman plays the inferior archetype, ready to bear children on command and ever so eager to placate her neolithic husband. The husband’s role in his wife’s life plays a major role in her spiritual suicide.
The reason spiritual suicide is used instead of madness or extreme psychosis is because, in her final moments of lucidity, the wife recognizes that the pattern on the paper holds a woman in its grasp. She realizes that the woman’s life is left to creeping about,” lurking like a disgruntled shadow about the world. This revelation compounds her own self-realization that she too is trapped by a troglodyte husband who sees her problems as cursory whims of her emotional side. In short, he does not care for her because the gloss of his culture has blinded him to his true emotions and forestalled his true love for her. This allows his medical ignorance to take action instead of his true heart, which is mired in socio-sexual-politics. The plight of the man is only half as dismal as that of his servant and submissive subject, the woman. If one were to think of a rich lord, his servants would be well clothed and fed, yet a poor man has misery cloaked all around him. However, the man cannot compare to the woman’s plight. She is discarded and locked in an iron cage of illusion and increasing mental strain.
The woman’s role in the story was diminished by sexism, but she is still strong. Unlike her sister Jenny, the mad wife embodies true individualism. She resists her husband’s orders and sees Jenny as a competitor (see page 861-2, where she skillfully deceives Jenny and pulls her away from the wallpaper) because she is too independent. She still has her own mind and cannot be broken by the cycle of socialization that makes women believe they are inferior. The truth is not evident until it is discovered through reason. This is the true perspective of the woman’s view: life is knowable and cannot be accepted at face value solely because it benefits men, who blindly accept it. The true power of the perspective in the work lies in the dynamic, searching nature of the characters. They explore and experience the wall through their emotions and hope to achieve a deeper, more personal understanding. Unfortunately, this understanding leaves nothing to reconcile the worst fact: there is no reason for the woman’s subjugation, and they must either live with it or not live as rational beings.
The spiritual suicide is now explainable, and the fact that the main character brought herself to realize she, as a woman, was doomed, she killed herself. When we speak of this death, like any other, we use a mixture of verbal and sometimes physical images. These words are analyzable and can be reduced to the simplest broth of culture and meaning. Yet, if they are to mean anything, they must be read (or if pictures, seen) in the context of the author’s intent, the final impact of the words, and most importantly, what the author has said for the sake of meaning. The current state of the woman’s perspective is much like it was with Gilman, the rational use of logical tools for discovering the truth in relation to how one is treated (that is to see if it is fair). The modern woman now has more liberties and social freedoms, and the men have also been released from the prehistoric model of force equating to reason and a right to rule. In the end, the evolution of social structure has allowed both sexes to see, without jaded eyes, the universality of the human condition sans bias.