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    The Symbolism and Exemplification of Women Entrapment in “The Yellow Wallpaper”

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    During the time of the 1800’s, women were not yet taken serious. They were viewed nonetheless to be under men’s strict orders. Charlotte Perkins Gilman is an author who wrote a short story called “The Yellow Wallpaper”. This short story depicts a personal view being inferior in terms of speaking out to a man in regards to oneself needs and the consequences of it. Gilman uses symbolism throughout the story to portray a sense of entrapment and the limited freedom women received because of the social norms that took place during that time.

    From the beginning it is clear that the woman is being repressed by the husband. Moreover, this does not benefit her as it seems as though she is suffering from Postpartum Depression. In the story, she mentions of a child no mention of it being with or around her. It is stated that, “It is fortunate Mary is so good with the baby. Such a dear baby! And yet I cannot be with him, it makes me nervous” (Gilman, 218). This proves that the reason to their departure to that place was based on this particular incident.

    In regards to her husband, John, being a dominant person, it displays how the woman is not allowed to do approximately anything she wants. For instance, in the story it describes that, “…and am absolutely forbidden to ‘work’ until I am well again…personally I believe that congenial work, with excitement and change would do me good… There comes John, and I must put this away-he hates to have me write a word” (Gilman, 216,218). This demonstrates how she believes if she is physically active her situation will improve but, because her husband forbids her, she has to do it in secret. Because of this, as the time passes, it illustrates how the husbands so called “treatment” and dominance begins to negatively affect her.

    The symbolism Gilman brings about is that the woman in the “yellow paper” is the woman herself. Slowly, but surely, she has been descending deeper into her illness. Because she is unable to express herself to her husband, she is being engulfed into the madness inside her head.

    As an illustration, it says, “There are things in that paper that nobody knows but me, or ever will” (Gilman,222). This explains how she is gradually letting the illness or the “yellow paper” consume her. To go into further detail, because she is the only one is sick, it clears up the question as to why she is the only one who can “see” the things behind the wall that she claims to notice. Another exemplification of this is, “Sometimes I think there are many great women behind…she crawls around fast… and her crawling shakes it all over” (Gilman, 226).

    This particular quote can indicate how she is that woman behind the wall trying to get out. Because her husband has not at all taken her condition as severely as he should have (despite the fact that he is a physician) she has been trapped inside her head. Since she is not allowed to give an opinion on what she believes might help her, the husband has yet worsened the condition because he wanted to express the authoritarian figure unto her because of his profession. And so, this then led to her insanity swallowing her up to the point where she completely loses it.

    All in all, the woman in the story had severe repercussions because she did not speak up. But, this short story can represent more than just that. It can symbolize the effects of keeping things inside and not letting them out. It can also suggest that many women during that time period endured similar hardships and Gilman was trying to express the negative aspects it can create using her own personal life as an example. Another notion it can portray is the affects that childbirth can have on a woman. It is not likely to just have one meaning but rather have an umpteen amount. The way this short story is defined depends on the reader themselves and their perspective on it.

    This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

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    The Symbolism and Exemplification of Women Entrapment in “The Yellow Wallpaper”. (2022, Dec 09). Retrieved from

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