The Yellow Wallpaper

The Stages of Feminine Injustice

In the well-known work Women and Economics, Charlotte Perkins Gilman emphasizes her belief that "dependence on men not only doom[s] women to live stifled lives but also retard[s] the development of the human species" (Kirszner 449). Those words support the ideas conveyed in her short story, "A Yellow Wallpaper". In this piece, the narrator undergoes three stages: first, she develops a mental illness resulting from the constrictions of a male-dominated society; second, she deteriorates due to a worsening environment; and finally, she reaches a state of insanity. Ironically, it is this final stage that symbolizes her freedom.

In the beginning, Gilman reveals how the confinements of a restrictive society induce the narrator's illness. In the opening lines, she immediately points out the imbalance in her marriage: "there is something queer about [this house]...John laughs at me, of course, but one expects that in marriage" (Gilman 450). The narrator implicitly accepts that her opinions are "frivolous", trying to justify her sense that her thoughts are not worthy of her husband's respect. She goes on to demonstrate her husband's dominance in their relationship: "There comes...

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