The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, is based in an oppressive society ruled by a male figure where women are seen in a lower place in the hierarchy. The entire story basically demonstrates conflicts among a woman, the narrator and everything that revolves around her life. Her imprisonment of freedom of speech and her rights disabled her to dwell with the real cause of her illness. But after a profound analysis among the conflicts (narrator versus husband, narrator versus wallpaper, and narrator versus her place in the society) could her husband dominate her because there was never a tentative of communication? Or could she allow herself by being ruled by her husband?
Throughout the story, it is explicit that there is a constant conflict between the narrator and her husband John. But there was never an inner conflict between John and the narrator. John was practical and somewhat repressive; he is seen as a dominant skeptical male figure; by being a physician, he would not believe on anything that science could not prove and therefore, he did not show emotions at all. He seems to always put himself in the first place, in addition to it, he did not ever listen to what she said or felt.
If a physician of a high standing, and ones own husband, assures friend /and relatives that there is really nothing the matter with one but temporary /nervous depression-a slight hysterical tendency-what is one to do?. (Gilman 205)
On the other hand, the narrator doesnt make any effort to tell her husband that there was certainly a problem, not physical, but psychological and yet, she tries to convince herself that she just has a minor case of nervousness.
Oppression was an issue that the narrator exposed when was time to to tell what she thinks:
I did wrote for a while in spite of them; but does exhaust me a good /deal- having to be so sly about it, or else meet with heavy opposition. (Gilman 205).
She also has no freedom to chose what she wants. He tells her what to do and treats her like a kid, putting her in a room (which previously was a nursery) with bars on the window, depressing looking wallpaper on which she emphasizes it with a very negative description.
It is[wallpaper] dull enough to confuse the eye in following pronounced enough to /constantly irritate and provoke study, and when you follow the lame uncertain curves for a little distance they suddenly commit suicide-plunge off /at outrageous angles, destroy themselves in unheard of contradictions. (Gilman 206).
For this reason, the narrator is terrified by the wallpaper and asked her husband to repair it, as an answer he clearly states that he would not make any repairs because the house had a contract of three months. This statement signified that he does not give importance whether she liked how things were put in the room. He thinks the place is doing well for her. On the other hand, she did not fight for her opinion.
You know the place [nursery] is doing you good, and really dear, I dont care to renovate the house just for a three months rental. (Gilman 207).
Her situation got even worst with her own imprisonment, when her baby was taken away by giving it to somebody else to take care of, she also lost her role of wife, housewife and herself. And the repression affects her artistic side where she wants to be a writer. She is treated as a kid. She has a strong fear to show her feelings towards everything that goes on around her. But she is so alienated by how her husband takes care of her that her opinion about everything is not relevant and yet she tried to convince herself that John knows everything so she shall not disagree. Her alienation is demonstrated by seeing objects in inanimate objects. By this point she totally lost her identity.
The front pattern [wallpaper] does move-and no wonder! The woman behind shakes it! (Gilman 213).
She gets so disturbed by the kind of life she was having that her only support was her alienation, the wallpaper, which was her reflection. The narrator again, did know that locking herself up would not solve her problem, but she still would not say anything, her low self-esteem would even agree with the opposing side.
Besides her husband and herself, the wallpaper has a very ambiguous significance to her, at first; her conflict with the wallpaper was repulsion. She hated it because the colors annoyed her, but the only thing that she could stare in the room was the wallpaper and after quite a while she lost the repulsive feeling and she started to be amazed. Her mind was so empty that her imagination took over, and she was willing to rescue the supposedly the woman who is trapped behind the yellow wallpaper, herself. The wallpaper has a role of her imprisonment and freedom, so that was the only conflict that she could fight against by tearing it up (with her madness, she finally went for an action that puts her in another level, she freed herself).
Since the story is told in an epoch that women were not allowed to express themselves, the narrator kept her thoughts on the paper, which nobody could read it. That was because women, in general, were considered to be in the lower intellectual level than men are. She would not dare to stand up for herself and her goals due the fact that women were always seen as object. Her place in the society was even lowered when she was confined in the room. She is put in the nursery and treated like a child, she had no authority for the woman role in all circumstances. That was never a question towards what the narrator wanted to do or to be she was always imposed on everything she did. For the first time she stood up for herself by tearing the wallpaper off and that indicates she was fighting for her freedom, her place in the society.
I pulled and she shook, I shook and she pulled, and before morning we (narrator and imaginary woman) had peeled off yards of that paper. (Gilman 215).
She finally fights her big conflict, John. The male dominant repressor figured in her life as her husband and her physician would not still understand her situation. At the very end, she astonished and proved that she is over him.
in spite of you and Jennie! And Ive pulled off most of the paper, so you cant put me back! (Gilman 216).
It can be understood that creeping over him means that she is just as equivalent as in the way that he can not tell her what to do. And at all time, he never knew what was happening to her, so probably would not believe in her if she have sad something because he was skeptical. She now found a chance to make him listen to her, tell the real problem and place herself back in the society not just as a woman, b