The use of Creative Metaphor in Charlotte P. Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper

Topics: Sociology, Woman, Feminism Pages: 2 (766 words) Published: October 10, 2013
Gilman uses metaphor in The Yellow Wallpaper to comment on the destructive and oppressive social constructions of True Womanhood, an ideology present at the time Gilman wrote The Yellow Wallpaper. The eponymous wallpaper is metaphor for not only the narrator’s state of mental deterioration, but of the “pattern of social and economic dependence”1 of women, reducing them to household servants. The metaphors created in The Yellow Wallpaper lead to a feminist interpretation as each can be argued to comment or symbolise aspects of the oppressive constrictions women were subjected to. The wallpaper itself has been argued to have many metaphorical meanings. The wallpaper is a “symbol of her imprisonment”, because it is the focus point of the room the narrator has been trapped in by her husband—however, in the narrator’s mind the wallpaper imprisons her2. Paula A. Treicher argues that the wallpaper is a symbol of patriarchy, and the author’s own deteriorating mind3. The narrator describes a “sub-pattern”4 a different shade than the main pattern of the wallpaper and “particularly irritating”5. This main pattern becomes “bars”6 in the moonlight, and the narrator watches as the sub-pattern becomes, to her eye, a woman trapped in the wallpaper. The woman shakes the bars, trying to escape. To Treicher, the main pattern is a metaphor for the ‘pattern’ of social and economical dependence of women in society, “which reduces women to domestic slavery”. It is interesting that the wallpaper is a part of the house, a symbol of domesticity for women at the time. Women were limited to their ‘private sphere’, their homes. Gilman makes the wallpaper ugly and repulsive, “the strangest yellow, that wallpaper! . . . like old foul, bad things”, thus subverting the ideas behind Cult of Domesticity and revealing it as the destructive ideology that it is. The woman “trapped” in the wallpaper symbolises women trapped in their homes by True Womanhood, oppressed by the “design”, or the...
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