Paper Example: Gender Roles in The Yellow Wallpaper

Published: 2023-08-16
Paper Example: Gender Roles in The Yellow Wallpaper
Essay type:  Book review
Categories:  The Yellow Wallpaper Character analysis Gender in literature
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 1036 words
9 min read

Gender responsibilities, especially in the marriage institution, come out at the center stage of the thematic concepts in the book, The Yellow Wallpaper. In a society with diversity, there is usually an expectation from everyone. Men have been stereotyped with the task of taking care of their families since time immemorial (Gonzalez 185). On the other hand, women have been acquainted with managing the home. Women are, therefore, expected to carry out household activities, and look after the properties of the family, including children. It is the overall art of submission to a man. In The Yellow Wallpaper, it turns out to be a significant theme. The narrator is involved in psychological conversations that challenge her role in the marriage institution. She is forced to be a woman existing before the wake of civilization. The husband expects her to pay total allegiance to him without question. He also acknowledges it is his responsibility as a man to toil and provide for the needs of his family. The theme of gender roles, therefore, plays a significant role in the development of the plot of the novel, The Yellow Wallpaper, which will be discussed in this paper.

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Women's Submission and Freedom

The first concept of gender roles is engraved in the art of the submission. Modernity has taught women to believe their rights in a way that they are level to men. Most women have adopted the claim to justify the fact that they could forfeit their noble duties in society (Dosani 411). For the marriage to thrive, there needs to be submitted. That is brought out clearly in the story, The Yellow Wallpaper. The narrator is expected to carry out the household chores, cook and make the home clean. The female siblings who visit her also engage in household chores. That defines the role of women in a family setup. John, the narrator's husband, is a conservative man who looks at her as a traditional woman. He goes to the extent of restricting her movements by compelling her not to live the home. On the contrary, the woman does not engage in any arguments or fights against the rule. She offers submission of the highest level despite living under the deprivation of comfort and reproach. The message comes out core to solidify the fact that submission is not dependent on any factor. It is the role of women in marriage; on the other hand, men have the solemn duty to love and take care of their families.

Despite being expected to submit to their husbands, a thick line should be drawn between submission and slavery (Gonzalez 185). If a woman is made a slave in a home, happiness is marriage is likely to be disrupted. The Yellow Wallpaper uses the symbolism of a woman who strives to gain access but is denied. The woman painted struggling in the Yellow Wallpaper symbolizes forced submission and lack of freedom in marriage. She is denied access through every means despite her trying to gain entry. It refers to how women are denied the opportunity to air out their views in various marriages. Their perceptions never form the basis of decision-making. The narrator experiences such situations, and this greatly affects her psychological life, placing her in emotional distress. The husband is authoritative over her and does not allow her to express divergent views in their marriage. The result is that she becomes psychologically affected and emotionally disturbed. Men should accord their wives the freedom of expression and self-identity (Dosani 411). They should appreciate them and make them happy in their matrimonial relationship. It creates cohesion, love and understanding in the family.

Men as Family Heads and Bread Winners

The position of a man in the familsetupup is usually at the top. That goes without a doubt. The Yellow wallpaper labours to affirm the fact in a world where people paint men and women as equals. The roles cannot be reversed or levelled for any reason. Every party should play their part effectively to ensure the marriage is successful. The man in The Yellow Wallpaper exercises full control of his family. He also accepts the responsibility to provide for his family. This is evidenced by the fact he denies his wife the opportunity to work, citing that it is his duty as a man to work and provide for his family. He exercises patriarchy, where women have no opportunity to air their convergent or divergent opinions (Gilman 23). Although he denies the women their freedom of expression and self-identity, affirms the authority of a man in marriage. Men should be the heads of the home. They should be the main decision-makers in the family.

However, there should be a balance between them being heads and being authoritative. John, the narrator's husband, totally undermines her. When the narrator seeks to understand certain aspects of his decisions, he replies, "…this is to be expected in marriage” (Gilman 47). The situation makes the marriage relationship sour as the wife ends up suffering from psychological trauma that significantly affects her mental health. Marriage should, therefore, allow men to be the heads of the family and provide freedom to their female counterparts.


Gender roles continue to bear grave significance in society. Without each party playing their roles effectively, there will be a lack of relevance in the marriage institution. The Yellow Wallpaper points out significant elements of both men and women in marriage. Men being family heads does not mean that they thwart and undermine every thought and opinion from women. Women should also not seek to be equal to men in any way whatsoever. A cohesive relationship is where gender roles entail respect and love for each other without interfering with self-expression and identity. The theme of gender roles, therefore, plays a significant role in the development of the plot of the novel, The Yellow Wallpaper.

Works Cited

Dosani, Sabina. "The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman: a gothic story of postnatal psychosis–psychiatry in literature." The British Journal of Psychiatry, 213.1 (2018): 411-411.

Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. The Yellow Wallpaper: A Story. Oregan Publishing, 2018, 1-78.

Gonzalez, Carolyn S. "The Perfectly Unadjusted Woman: Reading Adaptation in “Tulips” and “The Yellow Wallpaper”." Humanities Bulletin 2.2 (2019): 175-184.

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