The Yellow Wallpaper Research Essay
Gilman makes it clear that much of John’s condescending and paternal behavior toward his wife has little to do with her illness.
He dismisses her well-thought-out opinions and her “flights of fancy” with equal disdain, while he belittles her creative impulses.
As a leading feminist lecturer and writer, Gilman found other options than madness to end her confinement in traditional definitions of womanhood.
Eventually, Gilman divorced her husband, who married her best friend, and her husband and her best friend reared her child.
The public, friends, and family so sharply censured Gilman for her actions that she knew many women would stay in unhealthy situations rather than risk such condemnation.
The unequal relationship between the narrator and John is a microcosm of the larger gender inequity in society.Though she concentrated on feminist issues, her influence reached beyond the woman's sphere.She has been compared by some critics to the author George Bernard Shaw and the art critic John Ruskin, and the London Chronicle compared her book, Women and Economics, to the writings of John Stuart Mill.Deprived of any meaningful activity, purpose, and self-definition, the narrator’s mind becomes confused and, predictably, childlike in its fascination with the shadows in the wallpaper.In the end, the narrator triumphs over John—she literally crawls over him—but escapes from him only into madness.Gilman makes John the window through which readers can view the negative images of women in her society.In Gilman’s lifetime, women’s right to become full citizens and to vote became one of the primary issues debated in the home, the media, and the political arena.He speaks of her as he would a child, calling her his “little girl” and saying of her, “Bless her little heart.” He overrides her judgments on the best course of treatment for herself as he would on any issue, making her live in a house she does not like, in a room she detests, and in an isolated environment which makes her unhappy and lonely.John’s solicitous “care” shows that he believes the prevailing scientific theories which claim that women’s innate inferiority leaves them, childlike, in a state of infantile dependence.If Gilman's narrator in "The Yellow Wallpaper" regressed into her insanity, Gilman certainly did not; unlike the narrator she created, she made her voice heard.She pursued her career as a writer and lecturer, and she wrote works of theory and social commentary that brought her international fame.