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The Turn of the Woman of the Century

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The Turn of the Woman of the Century

Before the turn of the century, women were under a strict defined role in society and in the home. Men were the decision makers in the household and determined the wife's role and her place in his "kingdom" and in society in general. Women were not allowed to participate in many things with men, such as education, religion and politics. Charlotte Perkins Gilman was one of many women who stood up against this oppression of women. She did not necessarily make a movement through her actions but through her writing and her ability to share her story with her audience. Gilman uses a variety of language, metaphors, allusions and many other literary tools in order to better introduce her reader to the subliminal messages, whose meanings are hidden within her well written well-written stories.

Women eventually began to get so tired of being dominated heavily by their male counterparts, that some of them began to revolt against the domination and suppression of women and their freedoms. Charlotte Perkins Gilman was one of the many women authors who spoke out against the suppression. Her opinion of men began to deepen at around the age of nine, when her father died and left her and her mother to live with some women relatives. These women are very well known for their role in the fight against suppression and oppression and for the part they played in the fight for women’s suffrage. Their names include; Harriet Beecher Stowe, Catherine Beecher, and Isabella Beecher Hooker. Machella Caldwell states in her article, “[Gilman] developed her views on ‘feminist convictions’... [and] at a very early age learned to be independent (Caldwell page?).”

In "The Yellow Wall-Paper," we see Gilman use her writing to tell a story, through subliminal messages and relative events, about her situation along with millions of other women in the United States and throughout the world. Gilman used many symbols to relate her life to things that are seen in the everyday world around us. For instance, according to critic, Viola Garcia, yellow symbolizes “inferiority, strangeness, cowardice, ugliness, and backwardness (Garcia page).” I believe that through Gilman’s literary tools she is able to relate her situation to those in the world that are intellectual enough to pick up on the hidden messages and the subliminal meanings of her word use and descriptions.

Many critics see Gilman's story to be one in which she is able to share her inward feelings with those of whom are intellectual enough to understand the hidden message beneath the large amount of elaborate descriptions and metaphors throughout the story. From looking at Gilman’s work and then looking at her life, many get the feeling that her life and her works were on a parallel synchronization that is beyond that of most fiction writers. Gilman does not plainly tell stories of her life or of experiences that she has faced through her works, yet she uses literary tools to convey many subliminal messages that are picked up mostly by an analytical audience.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman, herself, once went into a depression after giving birth to her daughter, Katharine Beecher Stetson. According to Mary Beekman, "Motherhood consumed her time, subsuming her ambition. This caused her to sink into a depression that was first treated by a popular form of rehabilitation called the rest cure, a regimen consisting of continuous rest and suppression of all thoughts of or actions toward a career (Beekman)." After this time in her life is when she wrote her famous piece of fiction called “The Yellow Wall-Paper.” Gilman’s attitude toward men at this time could not have been one that was of great compassion. She had already been separated from her first husband, and then she was put on a rest cure by her second husband, while her newborn baby was being raised without her involvement.

I believe that Charlotte Perkins Gilman would be a great author to analyze further and compare her life to her works. Through reading “The Yellow Wall-Paper” I have picked up on a series of subliminal and underlying messages that combine to tell a story much like that of the one faced by Gilman in her personal life. Through studying this particular piece by Gilman and by looking at her role in the feminist movement, I believe that I will be able to present, with great backing, an argument that pulls Gilman’s works onto the same level as her own life. Many times we find that women authors express themselves through their opinions, but none hide them and express them so mysteriously as those of Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

Works Cited

Beekman, Mary. "Charlotte

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