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Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” From a Feminist Perspective

The Yellow Wallpaper is a literary piece written from a feminist perspective. There is no need to elaborate on what feminism is all about except to say that the feminist movement wanted to empower women and this is related to the assumption that men are holding them back. One of the more interesting ways of portraying this dynamic is through literature and one of the best examples is the “Yellow Wallpaper” where the author was able to show the impact of having a controlling and domineering man for a husband and how this stifling environment led the main character experience a psychotic episode.

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In the Yellow Wallpaper men are perceived to be domineering and the primary bread winner in the family. As the primary breadwinner the whole family depended on him for survival. All their needs are taken from his hard labor and the use of his skills and talents. Without his determination and hard work the family will have no means of acquiring food, shelter and clothing. This means that the family must hold him in high-esteem for everyone is dependent on the father.

Aside from being seen as the primary breadwinner, Gilman saw husbands as domineering. There are many facets to this statement, and thus this can be further broken down into the following elements:

  • The husband’s word is law;
  • The husband should appear to be intellectually superior to the wife;
  • The husband has a ready answer to every type of domestic problem.

The husband’s word is law. There is no need to elaborate on this statement. In the said short story the husband makes decisions without consulting his wife and when he makes the final decision there is no room for negotiation. In the Yellow Wallpaper the husband decided that they must go to the country to take their vacation and the wife, although unwilling, did not show her objection to the plan to spend their summer in a very quiet region in the United States.

The husband had a job that seems to fit his intellectual capabilities while the wife was forced to become a plain housewife. There is no need to explain that not a great deal of brainpower is needed to stay home. For the husband this is the way it should be. The wife was trying to tell him about her inner-turmoil. But the husband, being an expert doctor, could not let his wife decide what is best for her. Her inferior intellect is no match to her husband’s even if this is not true. Her ideas do not matter and she will have to learn to be quiet and submissive.

One of the most frustrating aspects of her husband’s domineering ways is the fact that he finds an answer to every domestic problem. When his wife complained of being weak and sad, the husband immediately gave his diagnosis. His domineering ways prevented him from being a good listener and to acknowledge that there are still some areas in human psychology and physiology that is not yet familiar to him. But instead of acknowledging his limitations in some areas, he strengthened his resolve to force the wife to do what he pleases.


The domineering husband finds it hard to accept a different perspective, especially coming from his wife. There is this expectation that the husband is always right and that if there is a problem should be able to provide a ready answer. But there are times when the problems experienced by the wife are more complicated and requiring the expert opinion of other people. In this case the husband should be humble enough to accept that there are things he could not solve. But he is oblivious to this problem and he continues to torture the wife with his incessant demonstration that he is the alpha-male and that his wife must bow down to him.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, October 23). Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” From a Feminist Perspective. Retrieved from


StudyCorgi. (2021, October 23). Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” From a Feminist Perspective.

Work Cited

"Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” From a Feminist Perspective." StudyCorgi, 23 Oct. 2021,

1. StudyCorgi. "Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” From a Feminist Perspective." October 23, 2021.


StudyCorgi. "Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” From a Feminist Perspective." October 23, 2021.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” From a Feminist Perspective." October 23, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” From a Feminist Perspective'. 23 October.

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