The Yellow Wallpaper

“Who Run the World? Girls.” — An Exploration on Female Liberation, Selfhood and the Entrapment of Marriage through Symbolism, Imagery, and Irony in “The Yellow Wallpaper” and “The Story of an Hour” College

Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper,” and Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour” explore ideas of female identity and selfhood, and more importantly, female liberation. These authors present their female characters as self-assertive in a positive manner; however, the characters also acknowledge that the journey for ideal feminine freedom, liberation, and selfhood in the oppressive environment of a patriarchal society is extremely difficult due to societal scrutiny, self-scrutiny, the entrapment of the convention of marriage, and other social establishments. Gilman and Chopin utilize specific literary tools, prominently symbolism, irony, and rich imagery to reveal the inner themes of female liberation, patriarchal oppression, and the female identity.

In “The Yellow Wallpaper,” the narrator and her husband retreat to a vacation home to treat her “nervous depression” and “slight hysterical tendencies” (Gilman 1184).  Gilman’s story immediately begins with the narrator’s point of view that men, specifically men’s ideas, are more valuable than women’s ideas. Immediately revealing the oppression that the narrator’s...

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