While discussing the key theme of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper, it is necessary to highlight some fundamentals of the short story. First of all, there is a need to point out that the author is deeply concerned about the role of women in society.
From the very beginning it becomes obvious that the protagonist of the short story is oppressed and the oppression is depicted symbolically. For instance, one is to keep in mind that Gilman relies on rather complicated symbols, including the window, the wallpaper, etc. The house is mostly associated with freedom, as the author provides us with her own psychological vision of a woman’s transformation. In other words, she gives us an opportunity to understand that the house is considered to be the symbol of self-expression. On the other hand, the protagonist cannot feel safe, as she is not in her own house. Thus, nobody can say that the house is a symbol of security; it should be regarded as a place, which allows us to observe a woman’s metamorphosis. While analyzing the short story, one can probably notice that the main character feels uncertainty and fear. For instance, she says that “There is something strange about the house” (Gillman p.
1). However, there is no need to understand the phrase sensu stricto; on the contrary, deeper analysis of a woman’s worldview, allows us to suppose that for her there is something strange about her expectations and hopes; although she is not ready yet to accept the process of transformation and consider it necessary. In other words, a woman’s metamorphosis should be regarded as an evolutionary process.
One more symbol, which cannot be neglected, is the widow.
Generally, at first sight, it seems that the window should represent a woman’s potential; however, the author gives us a negative connotation. The protagonist does not want to look out of the window, as she can see many other women, who must creep, in order to belong to society. Thus, the main character of Gilman’s short story does not want to see her real personality, as other women symbolize her own reflection. In other words, one can make a conclusion that the window is not a symbol of various possibilities; it is a trap. Despite the fact that the woman experiences transformation, she cannot fight against her demons, as she seems to be alone in her fight. The room the main character is in is of particular importance, as it forms the protagonist’s emotions and attitude to reality.
For instance, the author draws our attention to the yellow wallpaper. Thus, it should be noted that it is the color, which influences the protagonist’s reasoning about life. The woman says that “The color is repellent, almost revolting; a smouldering unclean yellow, strangely faded by the slow-turning sunlight” (Gillman p. 1).
It is obvious that the protagonist’s only hope is her thoughts. She sees no way to avoid cruel reality; however, the wallpaper gives her an opportunity to escape. The author points out that the image in the wallpaper symbolizes all the women who must creep, in order to stay a part of the world.
The short story written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman gives us an opportunity to become familiar with women’s oppression in the 19th century. Gilman depicts psychological portrayal of women who feel trapped.
Gilman, Charlotte. The Yellow Wallpaper, Small & Maynard, Boston: MA, 1899. Print.