“The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is a popular literary piece for critical analysis, especially in women’s gender studies. It focuses on several inequalities in the relation between John and his wife. It was published for the first time in 1892 in a New England magazine and is considered to be one of the earliest and essential feminist literary pieces in America. The story illustrates the physical as well as the mental deterioration of women during the 19 century due to a medically prescribed treatment of being allowed to do nothing. Gilman created a very effective fictional narrative based on her personal experience with depression, and this had a strong impact on other women. This story was written to condemn the sexual politics which make the medical treatment prescribed possible.
The story is critically acclaimed because it brings into focus the unequal relationship the males and females in the society. The male gender is perceived to dominate society while the female gender is not given the space to make decisions independently of men. This is seen in the instances when John belittles his wife’s creative endeavors. John does not respect his wife, and so he treats her like one of his children by calling her a little girl.
This makes the wife dislike her house. To her, the environment seems too isolated, making her unhappy. The story portrays women in Western society as deprived of their rights. Instead, they are treated like objects or men’s possessions. They have nowhere to exercise their personal freedoms, and they feel belittled by the male counterparts. For instance, John keeps on dismissing his wife’s thoughts and opinions. He believes that his wife should depend solely on him for almost everything. This is why this story has enjoyed such popularity, mostly by women who feel that they deserve a better place in the society, that they need space to exercise their creativity and productivity. Women feel they have strong potential and the ability to do anything, just like men do, and they should not depend on men for everything. Rather, they should depend on men as much as men depend on women.
Women should have their decisions respected, and no one should dismiss their ideas. Instead, ideas should be shared and debated, regardless of gender. Moreover, men should support women as equals rather than belittle them.
In Gilman’s story “The Yellow Wallpaper,” John acts as the mirror through which women are viewed negatively in the society, a society in which women are not perceived to be full citizens. They are not supposed to be anywhere near the political arena or in the public eye. Instead, they should remain in their homes. This view has led to women fighting for their rights through creating women movements to fight for their place in the society.
Tips on Writing a Critical Essay over a Literary Piece
First, it is important to understand that a critical essay is not a criticism of the literary piece or of its author. It is your reaction or response to the piece.
Begin by reading the piece several times, if possible. Highlight and make notes on anything that captures your attention. That could be a phrase, a character’s thought or action, or an event. Then analyze why that interests you. What is the significance? What is the writer trying to achieve? Knowing the writer’s background and the social or historical time period in which a story takes place is helpful in understanding the significance of characters or story events. Then, create a thesis statement that reflects your opinion about some aspect of the literary piece. Next, utilize evidence from the piece to support your opinion. Finally, organize your writing in a logical fashion. Do not retell the story or present details in chronological order. Assume your reader knows the literary piece being discussed and is interested in your opinion and how you support it.
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