What does Gilman in "The Yellow Wallpaper" see as the lot of women in her own society? What is the cost to women of being consigned to that lot?

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ms-mcgregor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

''The Yellow Wallpaper'' was first published in 1892, during the Victorian Age.The Victorian Age had a great impact on the social values in the United States. These values stressed that women were to behave demurely and focus almost entirely on home and family. Gilman examines this role including the relationship between husbands and wives, the economic and social dependence of women on men, and the repression of female individuality and sexuality. Suffering from post-partum depression after the birth of her son, the main character is
advised to get complete bed rest by her husband and brother, despite her suggestions that she would like to write and read. While she does secretly write in a journal, it is made clear that her husband is to be the final decision-maker and that she has no role other than to be a charming wife and a competent mother. In fact, John often treats her like a child, calling her his "little girl" and his "blessed little goose." When the narrator has a "real earnest reasonable talk" with John during which she asks him if she can visit some relatives, he does not allow her to go. The obvious cost to the narrator is her sanity. By being treated as a child, she begins to act like one and then becomes more and more separated from reality. Thus Gilman reveals the cost of treating women like second-class citizens.

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The Yellow Wallpaper

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