Oppressive Symbol of Yellow Wallpaper

The Oppressive Symbols in The Yellow Wallpaper

In the late 19th century, the feminist movement was a striking period for women in the United States. Feminists focused on many societal issues like women’s suffrage, domestic violence and equal pay. Among these women, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, also known as a writer, contributed to the pioneering of women’s rights through her literary works. She mainly concentrated on women’s unequal status in marriage and expressed her views on this matter particularly in The Yellow Wallpaper. This short story examines the oppression of women in a male dominating society through the use of complex symbols such as the bed and the window, the wallpaper and the daylight and moonlight.
Oppression, the main theme of the story, is the state of being neglected from others. In the narrator’s case, she is oppressed from society by being confined into a room containing prison-like elements like an immovable bed and barred windows.   For instance, the immovable bed signifies that she is nailed-down to her husband’s mentality; he keeps her from moving symbolizing the restrictions enforced upon her. The bed is also a parallel to the society that she inhabits; an ‘‘immovable’’ society that cannot be changed. It is the symbolism of the bed that helps the reader understand that the narrator is undergoing a sense of entrapment. Just like the bed, the barred windows also develop the narrator’s oppression. Traditionally, windows represent a view of opportunities. However, in the story, these gateways have been completely obscured since they are all barred. This symbolizes a jailhouse where she is physically and mentally barred from society due to male dominancy. Although she would like to escape out of these windows, she knows that she can’t because ‘‘the bars are too strong even to try’’ (Gilman 14). This symbol of oppression reveals how she is facing captivity because of society’s strong masculine mentality.
The narrator’s captivity is also...