Free At Last
When a reader first reads The Yellow Wallpaper it appears to be a story of a young woman suffering from post pardum depression that slowly ends in the total loss of reality. However, understanding that Charlotte Perkins Gilman was an early feminist, and her writings share a common theme that women do not have an equal human status in society, the story takes on a whole new meaning. The author’s creative use of symbolism in The Yellow Wallpaper allows the reader an inside look of a young woman’s struggle to free herself from society’s “norm”. The author’s use of setting and symbolism perfectly represents the male dominant society in the Victorian era that believed a women’s place was in the home. The author carefully constructed her sentences and symbols to produce a picture of arrogant and creepy male oppression.
The story opens with the young woman describing the house as a “colonial mansion, a hereditary estate, I would say a haunted house, and reach the height of romantic felicity—but that would be asking too much of fate!” (168). The author uses this symbolism to describe the different roles a woman played. The colonial mansion describes her as a wife and a hereditary estate that of a mother. The haunted house alludes to the fact that a woman during this time had to hide any signs of intelligence or creativity. When the young woman talks about the height of romantic felicity and that it would be to much to ask, the reader understands the young woman’s desire to show her creativity through writing but that her husband and society would perceive this as a woman trying to over step her bounds would treat her as a outcast, therefore, she must hide this side of herself away.
It is the wallpaper, though, that is the focal point of the story, and it holds within it many descriptive symbols for the creepy discrimination and oppression of women. Women were thought to be property and treated li...