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Conflict in "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

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Words: 812 |

Pages: 2|

5 min read

Published: Jun 14, 2024

Words: 812|Pages: 2|5 min read

Published: Jun 14, 2024

Table of contents

  1. The Conflict of Gender Inequality
  2. The Conflict of Mental Health
  3. The Conflict of Patriarchal Oppression
  4. Conclusion
  5. References

In Charlotte Perkins Gilman's iconic short story, "The Yellow Wallpaper," conflict plays a central role in the narrative, driving the plot and highlighting the protagonist's struggle against societal expectations and her own internal turmoil. Through various conflicts, Gilman explores themes of gender inequality, mental health, and the oppressive nature of patriarchal society. This essay will analyze the different conflicts present in "The Yellow Wallpaper," examining their implications and how they contribute to the overall meaning of the story.

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The Conflict of Gender Inequality

One of the primary conflicts in "The Yellow Wallpaper" is the protagonist's battle against the gender inequality prevalent in the society of the time. The story is set in the late 19th century, when women were expected to conform to traditional gender roles and were denied agency and independence. The narrator, who remains nameless throughout the story, is confined to a room by her husband, John, who is also her physician. This confinement represents the societal restrictions placed on women, relegating them to the domestic sphere and denying them opportunities for self-expression and personal growth.

The conflict of gender inequality is evident in the narrator's frustration and resentment towards her husband's dismissive and patronizing attitude. She states, "If a physician of high standing, and one's own husband, assures friends and relatives that there is really nothing the matter with one but temporary nervous depression—a slight hysterical tendency—what is one to do?" (Gilman, 1892). This conflict highlights the power dynamics within the marriage and the narrator's struggle to assert her own autonomy and voice.

The conflict of gender inequality is further exacerbated by the symbol of the yellow wallpaper itself. The narrator becomes fixated on the wallpaper, which she finds oppressive and disturbing. As she spends more time in the room, her obsession with the wallpaper intensifies, mirroring her growing disillusionment with the constraints imposed on her as a woman. The conflict between the narrator and the wallpaper represents her internal battle against the societal norms that restrict her freedom and individuality.

The Conflict of Mental Health

Another significant conflict in "The Yellow Wallpaper" is the protagonist's struggle with her own mental health. The story explores the effects of the narrator's isolation and confinement on her psyche, as she descends into madness. The oppressive environment she finds herself in, coupled with her husband's dismissive attitude towards her concerns, exacerbates her mental state.

The conflict of mental health is evident in the narrator's description of her deteriorating mental state. She says, "I think sometimes that if I were only well enough to write a little it would relieve the press of ideas and rest me" (Gilman, 1892). This conflict highlights the narrator's desire for creative expression and her belief that writing could provide her with some relief from her mental anguish. However, her husband dismisses her desire to write, further exacerbating her sense of frustration and isolation.

The conflict of mental health is also reflected in the symbolism of the yellow wallpaper. The narrator's fixation on the wallpaper and her hallucinations of a woman trapped behind it mirror her own deteriorating mental state. The conflict between the narrator and the wallpaper represents her struggle to maintain her sanity and regain control over her own mind.

The Conflict of Patriarchal Oppression

Throughout "The Yellow Wallpaper," there is a pervasive conflict between the narrator and the oppressive nature of patriarchal society. The story highlights the ways in which women were silenced, marginalized, and confined by societal expectations and the dominant male figures in their lives.

The conflict of patriarchal oppression is evident in the narrator's descriptions of her husband's controlling behavior. She states, "John laughs at me, of course, but one expects that in marriage" (Gilman, 1892). This conflict highlights the gender dynamics within the marriage and the narrator's struggle to assert her own agency and challenge the patriarchal norms that limit her freedom.

The conflict of patriarchal oppression is also represented in the symbol of the yellow wallpaper. The wallpaper serves as a metaphor for the suffocating and restrictive nature of patriarchal society. The narrator's obsession with tearing down the wallpaper represents her desire to break free from the confines of societal expectations and assert her own identity.

Conclusion

In "The Yellow Wallpaper," Charlotte Perkins Gilman masterfully explores the complex conflicts faced by women in patriarchal societies. Through the conflicts of gender inequality, mental health, and patriarchal oppression, Gilman highlights the struggles and limitations imposed on women and the detrimental effects they can have on one's sense of self and mental well-being. By delving into these conflicts, Gilman prompts us to reflect on the broader implications of gender inequality and the importance of challenging societal norms that perpetuate oppression. "The Yellow Wallpaper" remains a timeless work that continues to resonate with readers, reminding us of the ongoing fight for gender equality and the necessity of empowering women to break free from the confines of societal expectations.

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References

Gilman, C. P. (1892). The Yellow Wallpaper. The New England Magazine.

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

Conflict in “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. (2024, Jun 14). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 15, 2024, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/conflict-in-the-yellow-wallpaper-by-charlotte-perkins-gilman/
“Conflict in “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.” GradesFixer, 14 Jun. 2024, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/conflict-in-the-yellow-wallpaper-by-charlotte-perkins-gilman/
Conflict in “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/conflict-in-the-yellow-wallpaper-by-charlotte-perkins-gilman/> [Accessed 15 Jul. 2024].
Conflict in “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Jun 14 [cited 2024 Jul 15]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/conflict-in-the-yellow-wallpaper-by-charlotte-perkins-gilman/
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