Discrimination in The Yellow Wallpaper

Charlotte Perkins Gilman displayed what women during the 1880’s had to endure in her short story “The Yellow Wallpaper”. During the nineteenth century, women were viewed as subordinate to men, for they had to submit to their husbands and were only allowed to perform domestic duties. The theme of husbands being superior to their wives in marriage is exhibited in “The Yellow Wallpaper” through the symbolism of the narrator’s husband, the yellow wallpaper, and the windows in the room.

First, the theme of husbands being superior to their wives in marriage is shown through the narrator’s husband. The husband, John, is a crucial symbol of showing how women’s opinions were not taken seriously during the 1880’s. In the beginning of the story, the wife expresses how she is ill but that her husband belittles her and does not believe her: “you see he does not believe I am sick…if a physician of high standing, and one’s own husband, assures friends and relatives that there is really nothing the matter with one but temporary nervous depression…what is one to do” (Gilman 475). Also, she felt as if the house had been empty for years, haunted perhaps, andher husband ignored her concerns and said that what she felt was a “draught” and shut her window. He ignores her so much that the only possible way for her to express herself is by writing in a journal, and her loneliness has caused her to become obsessed with the yellow wallpaper in her room. She discusses the disturbances it causes her and her desire to leave the house to her husband, but once again, he silences her. Toward the end of the story, she has become so insane, due to her fixation on the wallpaper, that she ends up making a complete mess of the room, then John walks in and faints in the doorway, blocking her way out: “now why should that man have fainted? but he did, and right across my path by the wall, so that I had to creep over him every time” (Gilman 486). Therefore, John is cl…