The Poverty of Being a Woman in “The Yellow Wallpaper” example

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The Poverty of Being a Woman in “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Throughout the history, relative impoverishment of different racial and social groups was not necessarily revealed in monetary terms. In the short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman “The Yellow Wallpaper” we see a character who is deprived of a significant part of her free will and individuality. This happened for the mischance of being born a woman in the century when people of this gender identity were more often than not passive recipients of life experiences, not builders of their own destiny.

The protagonist of the story, possibly named Jane, spends her days in a rented mansion, not allowed by her husband to work, in order to get over a nervous depression. Under-stimulation in terms of life experiences which are absent makes her concentrate almost exclusively on the room and its wallpapers. Her own voice and opinion is substituted by that of her husband, for instance a claim that “if a physician of high standing, and one’s own husband, assures friends and relatives that there is really nothing the matter with one but temporary nervous depression—a slight hysterical tendency—what is one to do?” (DiYanni 380).

Helplessness and inferiority of Jane’s position is highlighted by a place where she spends her days – a nursery. In the beginning of the story, a thought flashes through the character’s head, on what would happen if she had less opposition, and more stimulus. Closer to the end, however, she gives in to the thought that “life is very much more exciting now than it used to be” (DiYanni 388), and never actually starts the fight for her identity.

Jane of “The Yellow Wallpaper” is a passive recipient of a life which happens to her, a powerless victim of a century where being born a woman meant acceptance of poverty of life experience and free will. Variety of her weekdays shrunk to the width of the yellow wallpaper on the wall, never letting her see the whole specter of the life’s rainbow.

Works Cited

DiYanni, Robert. Literature: Reading fiction, poetry, drama, and the essay. McGraw-Hill College, …

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