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The Yellow Wallpaper: The Woman’s View in a Subjugated Role

The presence of a woman’s perspective in the The Yellow Wallpaper is evident whenwe see the first passage describing the trees and how aesthetically pleasant theatmosphere is; this is the “view” of the stereotypical nineteenth century woman. To compound that she is the subject of her master, her husband. To the woman, themaster is wiser (he is a good doctor). He is physically superior, and he controlsthe social situations and preserves “order” by acting like a “man” should. Theperspective is inferior for the standard human being.

It is a state devoid ofrights or self-worth; the woman plays the inferior archetype, ready to bearchildren on command and ever so eager to placate her neolite of a husband. Thehusband’s role to his wife is plays a major role in the spiritual suicide of thewife. The reason spiritual suicide and not madness or extreme psychosis is usedis because the wife in her final throes of lucidity recognizes that the paper’spattern holds a woman in its grasp and that by this rude hand the life of thewoman is left to “creeping about” lurking like a disgruntled shadow about theworld.

This revelation also compounds her own self-realization that she too istrapped, by a fatigue and a troglodyte husband that sees her problems as cursorywhims of her emotional side–in short he does not care for her because the glossof his culture has blinded him to his true emotion and forestalls his true lovefor her. This allows for his medical ignorance to take action and not his trueheart, which is mired in socio-sexual-politics. The plight of the man is onlyhalf as dismal as is that of his servant and submissive subject the woman.

If onewere to think of a rich lord, his servants would be well clothed and fed, yet apoor man has misery cloaked all round him; the man cannot compare to the woman’splight: she is discarded and locked in an iron cage of illusion and increasingmental strain. The woman’s role in the story was cut down by the fast hand ofsexism, yet the woman is strong. Unlike the sister Jenny, the true spirit ofindividualism is alive in the mad wife.

The reason she fights her “orders” fromher husband and sees Jenny as a competitor (page 861-2 where she skillfullydeceives Jenny and pulls her away from the wallpaper) is that the wife is tooindependent, she still has her mind; she cannot be broken by the cycle ofsocialization that makes women think they are inferior because they must be–thetruth is not evident until it is discovered through reason. This is the trueperspective of the woman’s view, that life is knowable and cannot be accepted enface solely because it benefits men and they blindly accept it.

The true power ofthe perspective in the work is the dynamic searching nature of the characters,they seek and feel about the wall through their emotions and hope to achieve adeeper and more personal understanding. Unfortunately this understanding leavesnothing to reconcile the worst of facts that there is no reason for the woman’ssubjugation and that they must live with it or not live as rational beings. Thespiritual suicide is now explainable and the fact that the main character broughtherself to realize she as a woman was doomed, she killed herself.

When we speakof this death, like any other, we use a mixture of verbal and sometimes physicalimages. These very words are analyzable and can be reduced to the simplest brothof culture and meaning–yet if they are to mean anything they must be read (or ifpictures, seen) in the context of the author’s intent, the final impact of thewords, and most importantly, what the author has said for the sake of saying andfor the sake of meaning.

The current state of the woman’s perspective is muchlike it was with Gilman, the rational use of logical tools for the discovering ofthe truth in relation to how one is treated (that is to see if it is fair). Themodern woman now has more liberties and social freedoms and the men have alsobeen released from the prehistoric model of force equating to reason and a rightto rule; in the end the evolution of social structure has allowed both sexes tosee without jaded eyes the universality of the human condition sans bias.

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