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Hurley 1Van Hurley Mr.Diguette English1102 28 April 2016 Feminism in The Yellow Wallpaper Since being featured in the Feminist Press in 1973, Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” stands as the urtext for all feministic literature. This classic tale, originally published in 1892, addressed advanced ideas such as the advocacy of women’s rights. It took a whole century before societal progressions generated an audience that could accurately understand the intricate symbolism that told the story of repression and urgency for freedom among women. While most agree that “The Yellow Wallpaper” was a standard in feministic literature, some critics still question its feminist values. Thus, the story initiated active debates and an abundance of critical discussions regarding the degree to which the story portrays an effective feminist statement. Asha Nadkarni, a professor in the department of Feminist Studies at University of Massachusetts, shared her analysis of “The Yellow Wallpaper” in her essay “Reproducing feminism in Jasmine and ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’.” Nadkarni begins her essay by claiming that Gilman’s story “The Yellow Wallpaper” is overrated for its significance to the feminist community. Nadkarni believes that many other pieces of literature depict feminism in a better and more admirable light. She notes this by saying, “Gilman's tale of a privileged white woman's descent into madness may serve as an allegory for many Anglo-American Second Wave
Hurley 2feminists, but not for all”(218). She argues that such universalist knowledge puts readers at risk of construing underlying feminist meaning from the text due to its broad diction. Nadkarni demonstrates how easy it is to inquire unintended meaning from literature by applying racial connotations to “The Yellow Wallpaper” instead of feministic ones. Focusing on the color of the wallpaper for her example, Asha Nadkarni sifts through past writings of Gilman to find anti-immigrants and anti-Chinese attitudes. She is able to connect details of the wallpaper to nativist tropes. Therefore, she interprets descriptions of the wallpaper as “the narrator's unconscious to argue that the wallpaper also encodes a political unconscious” (220). As a result, she proposes that "the white, female, intellectual-class subjectivity which Gilman's narrator attempts to construct, and to which many feminists have also been committed perhaps unwittingly, is a subjectivity whose illusory unity, like the unity imposed on the paper, is built on the repression of difference” (220).