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Who is Charlotte Perkins Gilman: A Quick Overview

Early Life

Later Life

Her Work

Major Points and Conclusions

Gilman lived in a time where the common role of women was subordination to men, and where their isolation from the social world was prominent. Depression, psychological stress, and mania was not unexpected in women and was often dismissed as it was usual in that day. As a wife to Charles Walter Stetson from 1884 to 1888 (legally divorcing in 1894), Gilman suffered from depression and did not fit well into the conventional position of a housewife. A brief insight into this period of her life can be found in her story, "The Yellow Wallpaper." Her point in writing this book was not only to show her own personal struggle, but the struggle of women in low solidarity positions in society. Being confined to their homes, instead of socializing would cause the symptoms listed above. The various experiences that Gilman lived with growing up, became some of the main points in her work as an author, lecturer and social reformist. For instance, growing up mostly in the presence of her great aunts (who were suffragists and abolitionists), Gilman would come to know of the cultural and gender hegemony that surrounded her. Not only were the view's of the higher classes universal, but more specifically those of men. Being a compelling feminist, her focus had a large part in gender stratification; the disproportionate division of what is known as the three Ps: power, prestige and property. This goes hand in hand with her ideology that women also need these conditions, much like men, to remain mentally sound. This once again, is evident in her story titled, "The Yellow Wallpaper". Housework simply is not productive work. She advocated for professionalization of traditional female jobs such as cooking and childcare, thus calling for economic independence for women. Her perspectives were heavily rooted in both conflict theory and feminist theory ideals.


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