Cause-and-Effect Relationship in “The Yellow Wallpaper”

The Yellow Wallpaper is an 1892 short story by Charlotte Perkins that provides a glimpse into the oppression of women and how furious they are.  The narrator is a woman with feelings and thoughts leading her into an obsession with the yellow wallpaper hanging in the bedroom.  Cases of nervous depression manifest circumstances the effect of oppression on the life of women in marriage. Charlotte develops the short story to allow the narrator to transform the wallpaper into an obsession that causes her mental state to deteriorate due to the subordination of women in marriages; hence, The Yellow Wallpaper events explore a story that concerns the life of a woman whose husband continues to antagonize her, causing her mental and psychological trauma.

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The subordination of women in marriage originates from the cultural systems. The Yellow Wallpaper outlines the extent to which cultural and social beliefs subject women to subordination. Hence, the outcome of the forms of subordination leads to a condemnation of women’s treatment in some societies. For instance, the narrator is a woman who, by her gender, cannot engage in gainful employment. In addition, the woman feels isolated instead of engaging constructively with the rest of the society members. For example, isolation exposes the narrator to an emotional and mental breakdown. Such aspects manifest in how she compares her life to living in a haunted house. She feels strange about the wallpaper in her house (Gilman 1892). The symbolic relevance of this statement outlines levels of mild delusion due to the pain, oppression, and hopelessness she feels in her life. For instance, her antagonistic husband has isolated her from her child, who wants to watch over her. For this reason, the move makes her feel so depressed due to the condition and state she is going through.

The Yellow Wallpaper creates inconsistency. The narrator ends up in a paradox because she fails to understand the reality of her life. In the story, Charlotte utilizes irony and symbolism to show how the narrator faces harmful relationship challenges. All these situations seem to be innocent, but in a real sense, they are oppressive. From the beginning, the narrator is an imaginative woman who expresses herself well. Notably, the author indicates when the narrator remembers terrible night moments as a child. The surprising part is that to achieve the cure for her obsession, her husband prevents her from freely enjoying her positive imagination. For this reason, she trains her emotions and thoughts against any form of treatment that her husband suggests. Hence, her only focus is on the wallpaper hanging on her house’s wall.  Overall, the wallpaper is the only thing that tends to distract her thoughts from oppression and the pains of subordination.

Charlotte captures the rigid distinction between gender roles. The conflict that ensues touches on the domestic functions of women and the dominance of men in society. According to the author, The Yellow Wallpaper reveals the extent to which gender division affects women by enslaving them and keeping them in a state that does not allow them to develop. John assumes that his wisdom is superior and that his choices reflect maturity. However, the self-belief leads him to patronize, dominate and misjudge his wife in an attempt to help her (Gilman 1892). Therefore, the narrator emerges as a person trapped in the wallpaper. As a result, she attempts to understand why society is against women and realizes that society’s gender roles and domestic patterns are part of the tools that enslave them.

The narrator focuses on rescuing herself from the traps and a situation that enslaves an individual. The Yellow Wallpaper unveils the patterns of life of women in society. All these situations complicate any effort for her to free herself. For instance, the treatment received from John extends the depression of the narrator. However, John continues to use more force and authority to try and help her (Gilman 1892).  The technique positively affects the readers’ interpretation and makes them understand the story well. In the first case, the narrator does not reveal her thoughts to the world. As a result, these thoughts begin with fantasy, in which the author employs symbolism to clarify the situation of women in society. For example, she understands that the yellow stains and the smoothness of the wallpaper are connected. In addition, she tends to fight any realization that the image of a woman in the wallpaper symbolizes her situation. Therefore, all this makes the reader understand that the story’s technique depicts the reality of some women’s situations.

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The subordination of women reduces the narrator to act like a petulant child. Throughout the actions of John and other menfolk, the narrator becomes unable to stand up for herself without risking appearing disloyal. For example, the narrator is a woman that does not take part in the details of her life. As a result, she retreats into obsession and fantasy. In this place, she can only exercise control and the power of her mind (Gilman 1892).  Comparatively, the event depicts the cause of pain and subordination among women in marriages and their mental and psychological well-being. All the events in this story indicate how domination facilitates the violation of women’s rights to observe traditions and customs. Therefore, Charlotte depicts that men force women to pass through some outdated cultural practices.

In the Yellow Wallpaper, socially and culturally patterned norms restrict women. All these patterns create a sense of intimacy and immediacy. The author clarifies that John’s paternal behavior towards his wife manifests disdain and fancy flights that belittle creative impulses. The Yellow Wallpaper is the window through which the audience’s perspective expands to understand women’s negative image in society. Charlotte Perkins Gilman shed light on his life experiences by addressing how women and their rights to vote and assume the prominence of full status became a primordial issue that captured the political and media spaces.

The effect of subordination is rising of women. Most women’s rights movements have gained considerable popularity among women.  The Yellow Wallpaper categorically constructs women’s developmental immaturity, emotional stability, and low cognitive abilities in this dimension. For instance, physicians with little understanding of women and their bodies face complex situations in addressing the challenges of women. Such medics base their arguments on the inferiority complex of women, which contradicts the religious perspective that allows John to patronize the treatment of his wife. Throughout the story, Charlotte conveys the message of hope. Overall, the narrator personifies her quest to seek help and maintain her hope for a better future.

The Yellow Wallpaper underscores a personal struggle with postpartum depression. The primary cause of this condition is that women play a leading role in shaping the social direction of society. In this case, the narrator realizes that women are suffering in isolation. Hence, the event happened when women brutally mutilated one young girl by failing to conduct the female genital mutilation process well. The effect of this was the death of the girl when she was going to the hospital. In connection to that, when other girls realized the tragedy was happening, they ran away to seek their rights.  For this reason, the event clearly shows that the information had come out whereby they still underwent brutal practices in their lives, although there were rights that protected them. However, it was not long before the concealed information helped some of them to escape the practices.

From the event, Charlotte strengthens the belief that women in most societies occupy less importance even when they raise complaints. The reason is that actions against oppression and subordination are not fast and treasured more than women who violate them from enjoying their rights. According to the author, the narrator is not offered a chance to do her roles. For instance, in the story, she is locked in a room and expected to stay there. Social norms, patriarchal structures, and male dominance have denied women the chance to be with the rest of the community. As a result, the woman suffers from depression which clearly shows the pain of being a woman.

The setting of The Yellow Wallpaper affects the narrator’s attitudes, feelings, and emotional disposition. The narrator feels confined in the bondage of slavery. All these feelings are due to the social-cultural norms that characterize the setting of the storyline. For example, although John’s house stands along the road, it is miles apart from the village. Therefore, this demonstrates the social requirement that restricts the place of women and their progress (Gilman 1892). The setting captures the emotional situation of women that face restriction and isolation. For this reason, Charlotte symbolizes the bondage that comes with a social setting. The connection between the house and the narrator reveals the tendency of John to disregard her and refer to her as a little goose (Gilman 1892). All these attempts to infantilize and treat the narrator like a child (Gilman 1892). Overall, the cultural setting builds on the historical understanding that women are inadequate and have extensive inadequacies.

As is evident from the analysis, The Yellow Wallpaper depicts the subordination of women. The story reveals that gender discrimination occurs because of patriarchal social norms and structures. This subordination extends the mental imbalance and psychological pain that most women face in society. The author shows that the effect of subjecting women to discriminatory social norms is that women tend to remain childish, manifesting ignorance and challenges in their personal development. The story assumes that John has superior wisdom and maturity, which predisposes him to dominate his wife and make a wrong decision. In this context, the woman does not have any say, even in the least important factors of her life. Therefore, the woman extensively retreats into her obsession and fantasy due to subordination.



Gilman, P. C. (1892). The Yellow Wallpaper.

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