Feminism: the Struggle to Find Balance

Axel Joseph
Dr. Krista Petrosino
ENG 142
17 November 2015
Feminism: The Struggle to Find Balance
Feminism has been a debated topic throughout the literary world. The roles of women have always been in the shadow of men, why is that? Women characters in stories face scrutiny because their image is viewed as weak or miserable so what makes them valuable to our society? “The Yellow Wallpaper” was written in 1892, and is often referred to as a feminist short story. Given that the woman in the story goes mad because her role in society is limited and her ability to express herself creatively is restricted, can the reader assume that the author is making a feminist statement?   This topic could take at least two different approaches. You could either situate the story within a larger sociohistorical context (i.e.: What was happening in 1892 that made this particular story so relevant, and why does it remain so important today?), or you could take the story only on its terms: What does Gilman seem to say about “the female condition” in general by writing about the life of this one woman and her descent into madness in “The Yellow Wallpaper”? This story may be a depiction of struggles the author of the story went through in her personal life with a society where a woman is always seen as the inferior gender to males. In the “The Yellow Wallpaper”, the narrator of the story, who is also the protagonist, is locked away in a mental prison following the commands of her husband, John. The author shows the struggle of a woman trying to have freedom of thought but feels compelled to listen to her husband who is also her doctor. The theme of feminism is illustrated through characterization of John, the protagonist’s husband, the journal entries of the narrator, and the setting in which the story is being told. When you think of all of these things, the first thing that comes to mind is the imprisonment of the female character and the control men held in society at that time....