"The Yellow Wallpaper": the Oppression of Women in the Early 20th Century

Submitted by: Submitted by

Views: 790

Words: 2156

Pages: 9

Category: English Composition

Date Submitted: 04/17/2012 04:42 AM

Report This Essay

“The Yellow Wallpaper”

Theme: Oppression of Women in the early 20th Century

Charlotte Perkins Gilman, a revolutionary writer and feminist, whose presence existed at the end of the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th, is well known for her literary works that went “against the grain” of society as she challenged its views of women and their progression. One of her most notable works is her short story entitled, “The Yellow Wallpaper,” written in 1890 as a response to the treatment she had undergone after suffering, what many believe today to be, Postpartum psychotic depression. At the time, she was said to be suffering from neurasthenia, a nervous disorder introduced to the world in 1866 by Dr. George Miller Beard and popularized my Dr. S. Weir Mitchell, who created the “Rest Cure” as treatment of the disorder. The nervous disorder is no longer used in medicine and the treatment was made infamous a few short years after the circulation of “The Yellow Wallpaper.” After reading more about Charlotte Perkins Gilman I am confident in writing that her depressive state was heightened due to the strains and stresses brought on by a stifling society and her battle to overcome it.

Barbara Welter, in her book “The Cult of True Womanhood,” states that:

These [religious piety and submission] were the means that men used to insure the passivity and docility of women.  Religion would pacify any desires that could cause a deviation from these set standards, while submission implied a vulnerability and dependence on the patriarchal head (Welter 373-377).

In referencing religion, more specifically the Christian point-of-view, which makes up 75% of America’s population (According to American Religious Identification Survey from Trinity College, 2009), its safe to say that the roles of men and women were clearly set forth by the Holy Bible millennia ago. The book of Genesis shares that woman was created on the same day as man, equal with man,...