Yellow Wall PaperHow is the Yellow Wall Paper an Indictment of the Cult Domesticity

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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A true woman knew her place, and knew what qualities were wanted in her opposite. Said George Burnap, in The Sphere and Duties of Woman: "She feels herself weak and timid. She needs a protector. She is in a measure dependent. She asks for wisdom, constancy, firmness, perseveredness, and she is willing to repay it all by the surrender of the full treasure of her affection. Women despise in men everything like themselves except a tender heart. It is enough that she is effeminate and weak; she does not want another like herself."

Here is a passage from the link given in Post #4.  After the Industrial Revolution, the home was no longer a working part of the community; instead, it became a refuge from the working world.  It upheld the virtues and moral values, and the man dominated this world.  In Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper," the unnamed narrator is clearly subjugated in the manner of the women of the Victorian Era, an era in which a patriarchal society flourished.

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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I could not agree with the analogy of the story lensing itself to cult ideology. Instead, I believe that the story more forms to the ideals of oppression and mental illness. Given that the narrator is a woman physically oppressed by her husband and mentally oppressed by her own mind, I do not think that I could justify cult domesticity.

That being said, I could see how one could look at the story from this perspective: one person controlling the life of another by removing them from society. If that is what you are focused upon, then I could loosely see the interpretation. Even then, I would still be resigned to lean toward the overly-protective and oppressive role of a husband.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Let us remember that this excellent short story is told from the point of view of a woman who is being forced to follow the prescribed gender norms of the day. She is being obedient to her husband and the various doctors that are "helping" her recover from her condition of depression. Her entries reflect the gender expectations of her day and the way that women were expected to be quiet and submissive in the patriarchal society of which they were a part.

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