Society often depicts women as weak inferior and emotional Women are not

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Society often depicts women as weak, inferior, and emotional. Women are not to be taken seriously and are expected to be subservient to men. This is especially true of marital relationships in the 19th century. Charlotte Perkins Gilman explores these gender roles and societal views in “The Yellow Wallpaper.” Gilman’s use of character development, imagery, symbolism, and setting weaves the story through an unnamed woman’s eyes. Gilman’s protagonist is a wife and a mother. Her husband, John is a physician who appears to be a loving, caring husband who wants the best for his wife. However, John’s controlling treatment of his wife includes isolating her, patronizing her, and laughing at her nervousness about the wallpaper. He treats the narrator like a child, making every decision for her and completely disregards her wishes. The narrator feels obliged to appreciate John’s care and affection, despite being misunderstood. She plays the role of the submissive wife as is expected of her. Communication in this marital relationship is neither open nor equal and is rather one-sided as the narrator’s efforts at communicating how she feels are met by her husband reassuring her that she is well. She writes in her journal, “It is so hard to talk with John about my case because he is so wise and because he loves me so” (Gilman 86). This statement affirms the constraints within the relationship and similarly directs attention to the superior-inferior structure of the marriage. On a different occasion, the narrator hints at suspicion of her husband’s actions. She writes “[He] asked me all sorts of questions and pretended to be very loving and kind, as if I could not see through him.” (Gilman 89). Her comments reveal her frustration with her repressive role and her husband’s dominance.The setting of “The Yellow Wallpaper” demonstrates Gilman’s use of imagery and symbolism although the effect becomes more and more unsettling as the story progresses. The estate is vast and secluded and “quite alone, standing well back from the road, quite three miles from the village…there are hedges and walls and gates that lock.” (Gilman 81). At first, the narrator believes it is “the most beautiful place” (Gilman 81). But as her seclusion and isolation become more prevalent, the house, especially the room containing the yellow wallpaper becomes sinister and despairing. In her article, “A Breakdown or a Breakthrough? “Madness” in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper