In today’s society, many women, young women in particular, probably cannot remember a time when there was little or no equality between men and women, or perhaps even further back, when women were subservient to men. This idea of the inferiority of women seems to have been a widely accepted idea in the nineteenth century, which resulted in an explosion of feminist works. Aside from “The Yellow Wallpaper,” Gilman also addresses this issue in her novel Herland, in which several men, while exploring, stumble upon a society made up entirely of women who “have no fear of men” (Gilman 132). In In the Eyes of the Law: Women, Marriage and Property in Nineteenth-Century New York, Norma Basch states that “many female reformers wanted only to modify women’s subordinate status within the domestic sphere” (Basch 163-64). It seems as though Gilman was also trying to take a stand against this “subordinate status” of women by having the woman in “The Yellow Wallpaper” develop an independence. In the story, the woman appears to be very dependent on her husband, John. Years later, however, Gilman makes the women in Herland quite the opposite; they are described by the narrator to be “athletic-light and powerful,” and not “timid in any sense” (22, 132). The woman in “The Yellow Wallpaper” speaks in the beginning of the story of how John “takes all care of her” (Gilman 43). She goes on to say what a “comparative burden” she has become, and how difficult it has become for her to perform small tasks-“to dress and entertain, and order things” (Gilman 44). John is left to make all decisions of who will visit when, what her diet consists of, “cod liver oil and lots of tonics and things,” and how she spends her time, which is usually in the room, resting (Gilman, 46). It seems to upset her that John is away most days, in town working on his serious cases. The woman also seems to rely a great deal on John’s sister, Jennie. She mentions the Fourth of July and how she does nothing because “Jennie sees to everything now” (Gilman 46). Jennie takes care of all the household duties.
I decided to write this blog entry because of several of the comments that I received on my first entry regarding the topic of psychology. This is also one of my favorite topics in regards to psychology and that is gender equality. I found that it was only necessary to blog on this after the comments I received on the first entry. I believe the other sources that I have used will allow indivdiduals or peers that were wondering about my accusations in terms of reliability definitely more clear. This is just one area that I found interesting in regards to the many topics brought about in "The Yellow Wall-Paper."
Basch, Norma. In the Eyes of the Law: Women, Marriage, and Property in Nineteenth Century New York. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1982.
Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. Herland. New York: Pantheon Books, 1915.
Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. “The Yellow Wallpaper.” New York: Penguin Books USA Inc., 1892.
Posted by MelissaHagg at November 9, 2004 10:09 PM