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Yellow Wallpaper- Clifton

For the first time I think all year I feel like I had some understanding of the topic of our reading before hand. While having some idea of the reality of gender roles in America today, I did not have the perspective or the understanding of gender roles and the toxicity that existed in the nine-tenth century. It was arguably worse back then than it is today. I think it might feel more prevalent today because for the first time there has been a fair amount of addressing of this issue. Gender roles within households and society is simply horrible. For men, they have always been expected to be successful, brave, and rather emotionless. Women have always been expected to put their husband before them, and their children before him. On top of this they are often seen as fragile and emotional. The problem of mental illness is something that is so severe today, and as the narrator describes in The Yellow Wallpaper, it was back then as well.

Coming from a family with extensive mental illness I was able to really connect with this story. I can feel her pain. I think anytime a writer can enable the reader to enter into the headspace of their characters, they have done something masterful. The societal expectations of both men and women, & husband and wife alone are at great fault for contributing to the unhappiness and dysfunction within relationships and households. I have a great deal of admiration for women, I feel like it is really evident that their role in society does not accurately reflect their values or what they are capable of.

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5 Comments

  1. Christopher Wilson Christopher Wilson

    As someone raised primarily by women, I, too, related to the speaker’s experiences. While I may be a man, my mother and the other women who raised me taught me how to appreciate, support, and advocate alongside women instead of adopting the “male Savior” type of heroism. The speaker does a great job of addressing mental health concerns of anxiety and depression because there are some days that you feel on top of the world and other days when all you can do is sleep all day.

  2. Julia Borger Julia Borger

    I also thought this reading highlighted the significance of mental illnesses and awareness in an effective way. Today I feel like a lot of times we are trained to be happy all the time and if we are not, then something is wrong with us, but this is not normal. I believe seeing anxiety and depression affecting others in books and films helps normalize the reality that everyone experiences it and no one is alone, which is very true.

  3. Annie Waters Annie Waters

    I really appreciate the understanding you seem to have from your personal connection to this story. As someone who’s experienced mental health issues, I can definitely affirm that gender roles play a huge role in how people respond to their mental struggles. Because of patriarchal expectations of gendered behavior, I find that many men struggle to open up about their mental health issues because of their expectation to act stoically, while a lot of women (as in the case of The Yellow Wallpaper) might experience the issue of being denied autonomy in their response to mental health issues. For people falling anywhere on the gender spectrum, the patriarchy certainly has a harmful influence on addressing mental health issues.

  4. Alexandra Oloughlin Alexandra Oloughlin

    My mom works as a coach/counselor and so growing up, she has started to teach me about how gender roles play into mental health stigmatization, and how a given person reacts to a situation. I think that while most of the time we see the prejudice working against women, mental health is one of the times where men are often on the outs. In society, women are more seen as “vulnerable” and often find it culturally acceptable to talk to someone for help, where men often feel like they have to be strong, and hold it all in, something that can cause damage and create a wall from others being able to help. Women also sometimes resist help in order to not be seen as their stereotypes, but I have found this to be less of the case than men, something is seen in the statistics about counseling.

  5. Sophia Picozzi Sophia Picozzi

    I really respect you saying that you didn’t know how bad the conditions were for women in the 19th century because it shows how history is commonly depicted or told. In history, the US always focuses on the winners and the big names behind it, and those are mostly men. However, the people behind the scenes, and especially the women overshadowed by these martyred men of history are often overlooked and not given a chance to tell their story.

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