"The Yellow Wallpaper" traces the emotional deprivation of women in that century. How has the writer achieved this?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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One way in which the emotionally oppressed state of the narrator is achieved is through her own voice being evident to the reader.  The narrator describes the challenges of being with her husband, who is not an entirely bad guy, but is one who does not hear his wife and constantly believes in her frailty.  We understand more of her emotional status through the internal dialogue spoken and through the actual words she speaks aloud.  When this does not work, her attempts to keep a journal is another way we are able to peer into what is happening in her own mind.  The exploration to the oppression that is evident in the wallpaper is probably the best way in which the author has achieved conveying the state of the narrator's mind.  When the wallpaper is deconstructed to reflect situations that are not there, there is a complete understanding that the emotional deprivation present has calamitous consequences.

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Doug Stuva | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The narrator in "The Yellow Wallpaper" is the victim of a patriarchy, a male-dominated society.  She is suffering from post-partum depression, but no one understands her emotional state or takes her complaints seriously, or at least not seriously enough.

The men in the work assume they know what's best for her.  Her husband even forbids her from seeing her baby.

They do not understand that the narrator has a fertile and imaginative mind.  By closing her away they are dooming her.  When deprived of a legitimate outlet, her imaginative mind begins to see patterns in the wallpaper, and soon those patterns begin to reflect her own situation:  that of a woman locked away, unable to free herself.  And that is the picture and symbol of women in a patriarchal society. 

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