In Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper," who are the intended readers?
With her short but powerful story, in which readers watch the mental deterioration of a woman who is not allowed a say in her own treatment, Gilman seems to target the male establishment who deny women like her protagonist in similar ways. The narrator voices her opinions—she asks to be allowed to see company, she protests her daily schedule of "perfect rest" and lack of mental stimulation, and she actually claims to feel better when she has the wallpaper's design on which to focus and reflect—but she is ignored by her husband. He is condescending to her and threatens her with seeing Weir Mitchell if she does not improve. As a result, a woman who likely suffers from postpartum depression ends up having a complete mental break. She has delusions and can no longer recognize her own identity.
Here, Gilman shows how high the cost can be when the woman's voice is ignored and how much more she might deteriorate if her own estimation of her symptoms is not taken seriously. The protagonist of...
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