Women role in a society has always been changing since prehistoric times so it could not be difined accuratly. However there always has been a stereotype male figure in the society which nearly has not altered since the very first. Besides the women role also differed between religions and civilisations. For instance in early Native American Tribes women were something deified , this however shifted and women no longer thought to be superior , and quite opposite they were considered to be inferior.
By 19 century with the influence of the Civil War and all of the social protests demand to improve the woman rights caused many women to question the inferior role patriarchal society cast for them. Due to the fact that north won the war and so slavery was prohibited lead the women to claim their own rights in United States. During the end of 19 century many woman writers wrote various things to show their gender’s suffering living in a male dominant society. In l890 Florence Fenwick Miller , midwife turned journalist describes woman’s position succinctly.
Under exclusively man-made laws women have been reduced to the most abject conditions at legal slavery in which it is possible for human beings to be held , under the arbitrary domination of another’s will and dependent for decent treatment exclusively on the goodness of heart of the individual master. ( from a speech to the National Liberal Club) “ The Yellow Wallpaper” was also written during late 19 centuries by Charlotte Perkins Gilman to indicate the female suffrage under male hegemony America.
The writer demostrates a common female figure who is remaining passive in all the decisions she should take for her own however instead her husband John decides for everything she should do even in her every day schedule, as the female protagonist states “I have a schedule prescription for each hour in the day ; he takes all care from me, and so I feel basely ungreatful not to value it more. ” The narrator also stereotypes all o the male characters she addresses during the short story. She emphasises that they are all the same or worse than each other in treating women.
She informs the reader that her husband who is a physician does not believe that she is sick instead he assures friends and relatives that she has nothing except temporary nervous depression. The narrator compares her husband’s opinion about her with her brother’s “my brother is also a physician, and also of high standing , and he says the same thing. ” (13). Another male figure she compare with her husband is Weir Mitchell who is a physician too “I had a friend who was in his hands once, and she says he is just like John and my brother, only more so! (85). Due to all paralleling she made about opposite gender within the “The Yellow Wallpaper” we comprehend that the writer is feeling under oppression.
Moreover the narrator writes on her secret dairy since she was prohibited to write or read anything. Actually the writer was prohibited to perform everything other than essential needs of human being. It was banned for her to write ,to imagine and to work but she does not share with them the same opinion she states “personally I believe that congenial work, with excitement and change would do me good. (13). She is unhappy with all the rights they insist her to do however she is sure that these things are not curing her. There are also repetition of some questions “but what is one to do? ” (15), “and what s one to do? ” (9), “what is one to do? ” (10) which indicates that even though the writer does not agree with them in numerous points, she is not able to change neither her marriage nor her life since she knows that women are valued as long as they are supportive to their male companions.
Another point is that John belittles and ridicules her fears , opinions and believes. Because when she told her opinion about the yellow wallpaper in which is in their room she says “he laughs at me so about this wallpaper! ” (50). The writer thinks that the yellow wallpaper’s colour is “repellent” and “revolting”. Moreover we witness that the woman has worse ideas about this wallpaper “ there are things in the wallpaper that nobody knows but me, or ever will. Behind that outside pattern the dim shapes get clearer every day. It is always the same shape, only very numerous.
And like a woman stooping down and creeping about behind that pattern. I do not like it a bit. I wonder – I begin to think –I wish John would take me away from here! ” (122). We comprehend that John did not care about her feeling concerning the wallpaper in their room therefore that caused her to sight nonfactual things and believe them the most strange fact is that John’s attitude towards her forced her not to tell all what she believes and thinks “I had no intension of telling him it was because of the wallpaper – he would make fun of me” (169).
Besides we understand that John thinks she is still small because he calls her “little girl” perhaps that is the reason why he wants to control her and give all the decisions about her. Also it could be the reason why she does not tell him about her secret thoughts because he would think that she needs to be controlled. The short story has fascinatingly dramatic end which effects its reader and demonstrates that the writer wants to be freed from this male hegemony oppressing her in her every action .
The narrator which was annoyed of the wallpaper in her room and believed that women were trapped beneath the wallpaper got slowly got insane due to that idea and peeled off all the paper intending to free the trapped women. She ends the story by these words “ I have got out at last , in spite of you and Jane . And have pulled off most of the paper, so you can not put me back. ” (265). We derive that the women she speaks about is her and all the women trapped in a male dominant society. So she belives she can free them from this pressure by peeling the wallpaper.
Probably she sights the wallpaper as the society and her husband. Moreover we observe that she s tired of the role she was given by the society and wants to get rid of it. We witness a similar ending when we read Virginia Woolf’s To The Lighthouse , we face a perfect example for the gender roles : Mrs Ramsay. Mrs Ramsay is a wonderful actor in novel ,playing her role of “angel in the home” with a laudable diligence. “….. she had the whole of the other sex under her protection; for reasons she could not explain, for their chivalry and valour, for the fact that they negotiated treaties ,ruled India, controlled finance. (11).
Such a view is what we have seen in our houses since our childhood and what is going on in other houses. Being an angelic mother and wife who stays at home and does what her husband says is the only thing that is expected from the female figure nothing more than that is awaited. To get rid of it in order to get base in life as neither being supportive nor supported as needs a sharp cut from the past description of what and who is woman. So that is what Virginia Woolf does by killing Ramsay through the end of the novel.
This example shows that many woman writers touched on the same matter in their writings In the given situation in “ The Yellow Wallpaper” we have woman figure whom oppresses her feelings ,imaginations and thoughts because she knows that is the only way she can be accepted by her husband and the society she dwells in. However this female protagonist struggles to gain a base instead submitting society rules and the dominance of masculine hegemony. And finally when she thinks she got free from the place they trapped her , we witness that she got mad. So we can observe the sufferings of the writer due to the man hegemony she is oppressed.