For our literature class our teacher ,Cecilia Lasa, asked us to think an essay statement based on the short story we’ve been reading, “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Then, we had to write it pairs. I did mine with Bautista Olaizola. Then, we had to publish our essays on our blogs. I published mine, and then Ceci made some corrections and suggested some tips on writing conclusions. This is the second version of our essay, hope you like it 🙂
“The woman of the story “The Yellow Wallpaper” metonymically represents the woman at the late nineteenth century” How far do you agree with this statement? Explain.
In the short story, “The Yellow Wallpaper”, the protagonist is shown as a victim. She is not only a victim because of her husband’s apathy of her illness. She is a victim of the repressing society in which she lived in. This is a characteristic of many women in the Victorian society. That is why we can claim that this character metonymically represents women in Victorian society, since metonymy is a figure. Throughout the entire story, the author makes a critic to the society, but indirectly, using metonymy.
Firstly, metonymically means a figure of speech that consists of the use of the name of an object or concept for that of another to which it is related. Secondly, the woman in the late nineteenth century could not express themselves or do things like writing or going out of their houses alone. The protagonist of this story could not write because of her illness that was a nervous depression, this was what his husband, John, told her. Her husband did not allow the narrator to write because he thinks it is worst for her, “he hates to have me write a word” the protagonist cannot write in front of her husband. Also, at that time science was very important so the narrator thinks that her husband is always right, “What is one to do?” , this is when she is talking about what her husband tells her and that she does not agree with it but she feels he is right because of his profession. The protagonist of the story represents and carries almost all the features women were expected to have at the late nineteenth century.
Also, the woman at that time didn’t have the same rights as men. A further evidence of this is when the woman doesn’t like her room and says “But John would not hear of it, she feels her husband won’t consider her opinion. Then, her husband is not the only one that does not let her write; John’s sister in law does not let her write too, she is hired as a housekeeper. Then, John does not take seriously what her wife says about the wallpaper, “He laughs at me so about this wallpaper”, he does not care what the narrator says.
Women at the late nineteenth century suffered from being underappreciated and did not have a voice in society. In the story “The Yellow Wallpaper” this can be clearly seen. Women were so utterly underappreciated that they did not have a voice in their own homes. The protagonist of the story is acting as a criticism to society through these acts.
Reaching the end of the story, the topics of what women were allowed to do is challenged. When the protagonist can finally express herself without repression, is when she is free “here I can creep smoothly on the floor”, in this quotation the use of the word “I” represents a lot, she can finally make her own decisions by herself. When she can finally be free, it is seen as a mad woman “I had to creep over him every time”, here the use of the “I” is also important but most importantly, what her state represents. She is like in trance, “moaning” and “creeping on the floor” like crazy people. The fact that this woman could finally express herself, talk by herself and make her own decisions was as crazy as her state. In the ending, the woman is finally able to break these conceptions and expectations for women. She is metonymically representing the repression and hatred women in the late nineteenth century felt, but did not express. If women at those times expressed they would be seen as crazy. This is what the story is trying to convey to the readers.
In conclusion, the narrator of the story “The Yellow Wallpaper” metonymically represents woman at those times because she cannot express herself and also cannot do what she wants to. Also, she does not have the same rights as John or any men, like it was expected at those times, so when she can finally have the same rights, she is shown as a crazy woman. The protagonist is finally breaking free from the oppressive society, as the women at the late nineteenth century would have liked to do.