Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” From A Feminist Perspective Free Essay

The Yellow Wallpaper is a literary piece written from a feminist perspective. There is no need to elaborate on what feminism is all about except to say that the feminist movement wanted to empower women and this is related to the assumption that men are holding them back. One of the more interesting ways of portraying this dynamic is through literature and one of the best examples is the “Yellow Wallpaper” where the author was able to show the impact of having a controlling and domineering man for a husband and how this stifling environment led the main character experience a psychotic episode.


In the Yellow Wallpaper men are perceived to be domineering and the primary bread winner in the family. As the primary breadwinner the whole family depended on him for survival. All their needs are taken from his hard labor and the use of his skills and talents. Without his determination and hard work the family will have no means of acquiring food, shelter and clothing. This means that the family must hold him in high-esteem for everyone is dependent on the father.

Aside from being seen as the primary breadwinner, Gilman saw husbands as domineering. There are many facets to this statement, and thus this can be further broken down into the following elements:

  • The husband’s word is law;
  • The husband should appear to be intellectually superior to the wife;
  • The husband has a ready answer to every type of domestic problem.

The husband’s word is law. There is no need to elaborate on this statement. In the said short story the husband makes decisions without consulting his wife and when he makes the final decision there is no room for negotiation. In the Yellow Wallpaper the husband decided that they must go to the country to take their vacation and the wife, although unwilling, did not show her objection to the plan to spend their summer in a very quiet region in the United States.

The husband had a job that seems to fit his intellectual capabilities while the wife was forced to become a plain housewife. There is no need to explain that not a great deal of brainpower is needed to stay home. For the husband this is the way it should be. The wife was trying to tell him about her inner-turmoil. But the husband, being an expert doctor, could not let his wife decide what is best for her. Her inferior intellect is no match to her husband’s even if this is not true. Her ideas do not matter and she will have to learn to be quiet and submissive.

One of the most frustrating aspects of her husband’s domineering ways is the fact that he finds an answer to every domestic problem. When his wife complained of being weak and sad, the husband immediately gave his diagnosis. His domineering ways prevented him from being a good listener and to acknowledge that there are still some areas in human psychology and physiology that is not yet familiar to him. But instead of acknowledging his limitations in some areas, he strengthened his resolve to force the wife to do what he pleases.


The domineering husband finds it hard to accept a different perspective, especially coming from his wife. There is this expectation that the husband is always right and that if there is a problem should be able to provide a ready answer. But there are times when the problems experienced by the wife are more complicated and requiring the expert opinion of other people. In this case the husband should be humble enough to accept that there are things he could not solve. But he is oblivious to this problem and he continues to torture the wife with his incessant demonstration that he is the alpha-male and that his wife must bow down to him.

“The Last Of The Mohicans” 1992 Film By M. Mann


The 1992 classic movie The Last of the Mohicans relates the tale of set in the 1757 French and Indian War when the British and the French are battling for control over North America. The Mohicans, as history holds, have a past intermingled with war, influxes of other tribes and cultures, and migration (Mohican, 2008). The film is an epitome of metaphor and symbolism through the characterization that the director portrays. The director of the movie depicts the idea of convergence and divergence and the outcome of both paths. This essay discusses the metaphor and symbolism as portrayed in the film.

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The first symbolism comes out from the White romance story, which superimposes any other plot in the movie. The romance between Hawkeye and Cora shows an amalgamation of the Indian-Americana and the Euro-American which is symbolic of the culture and history of American acceptance and cultural convergence. And above all the romance and emotional crescendo between the two pairs show that survival is the key element even in love and an opposite of “savage war”.

When the Mohicans and the Munros join with Duncan and conceal themselves behind a waterfall, but are soon found by Magua’s band, the party realizes that their only chance of survival is for Hawkeye, Uncas, and Chingachgook to leap down the waterfall, leave Cora, Alice, and Duncan behind, and avoid a hopeless battle. As they prepare to part, Hawkeye and Cora’s passion for one another surfaces and Hawkeye exhorts Cora as follows:

You stay alive. If they don’t kill you they’ll take you north up to Huron land. Submit do you hear? Be strong. You survive. You stay alive no matter what occurs. I will find you. No matter how long it takes. No matter how far, I will find you. (Mann, 1992)

The film situates the waterfall romance dialogue in the context of racial survival or extinction: Hawkeye has just informed Cora that Magua killed her father when the Huron attacked the English, and Magua now pursues Cora and Alice in order to eliminate all of the Munros.

The movie also symbolically shows the gender stereotype of Cora being instructed by Hawkeye to assume the passive, enduring feminine role of the frontier captivity while the male characters often actively “struggle” in bloody combat which partially explains the linking of submission and survival.

An important suggestion to opt for the way of peace, and embrace survival is illustrated in the dialogue o Hawkeye when the Mohicans, Munros, and Duncan are captured by Magua. In this scene Magua and Hawkeye, debate before an elder Sachem of the Huron in order to negotiate Cora and Alice’s freedom. When Magua declares that the Huron will become traders as powerful as the whites are, and Hawkeye responds as follows:

Would the Huron make his Algonquin brothers foolish with brandy and steal his lands to sell them for gold to the white man? Would Huron have greed for more land than a man can use? Would Huron fool Senecans to take in all the furs of all the animals in the forest for beads and strong whiskey? Would the Huron kill every man, woman, and child of their enemy? Those are the ways of the Yankees and the Français traders and their masters in Europe infected with the sickness of greed. Magua’s heart is twisted. He would make himself into what twisted him. (Mann, 1992)

Though apparently, the dialogue portrays that “any degree of assimilation or accommodation is now defined by the film’s hero as being tantamount to total corruption” (Edgerton, 1994, p. 11). But if the metaphor inside the dialogue is properly traced, the statement enumerates that the path of racial conflict is one that leads to divergence and consequently extinction, whereas that of convergence will lead to the alternative to physical conflict which stresses education, dialogue, and discovery.

This is furthered symbolized in the film. Themes of education, dialogue, and discovery surface occasionally in the film: Chingachgook sent Uncas and Hawkeye to a white school as children so they could learn English and the culture of the Europeans; the three Mohicans often hunker down together to discuss their options; Cora speaks of her thrilling discovery of America and the wilderness; the colonials debate among themselves whether to join the English against the French; Hawkeye and the colonial militia hold council concerning whether to desert the fort or not; and Magua learned the ways of the Mohawk in order to survive and wants to learn and master the ways of the Europeans.

Survival and extinction are metaphorically symbolized in the movie which is now discussed. Mohicans abandons “savage war” in favor of a more harmonious myth. A “savage war” myth “struggle” and “conflict” are inherent to both “survival” and “extinction”; the winners of the struggle or conflict survive, and the losers perish. Mohicans, in contrast, denies the necessity of “conflict” and “struggle” in race relations.


The film metaphorically demonstrates the modern mythic version of race relations, one that places “convergence equals survival” against “conflict equals extinction.” To “struggle” with and to “fool” another race leads to “conflict” and mutual “extinction.” Conversely, to “submit” to and to “inform and educate” another race – to recognize the other race’s right to exist and to promote peaceful interaction and interchange between races – leads to “convergence” and mutual “survival.” The film’s opposition of “convergence equals survival” against “conflict equals extinction” is a reflection of the current dominant ideology regarding race relations in the United States.

The American vision brews a “cultural stew” where all races work together to overcome racist ignorance with tolerance, understanding, and education. While the idea of a society without racism is a real goal that real people believe in and work towards in modern America, violent racial conflict is equally real. This real, immediate opposition surfaces in Mohicans as the “convergence equals survival” versus “conflict equals extinction.”

Works Cited

Edgerton, G. (1994). ‘A Breed Apart’: Hollywood, Racial Stereotyping, and the Promise of Revisionism in The Last of the Mohicans. Journal of American Culture 17(2) , 1-20.

Mann, M. (Director). (1992). The Last of The Mohicans.

Mohican. (2008). Encyclopædia Britannica. Web.

Hawthorne Experiments – Elton Mayo With Roethlisberger And Dickson

This paper discusses the Hawthorne experiments; a brief description of the background of these studies is also given. It describes the social and environmental effects of the time that were observed on these theories. The relevance of these theories to the present time is also discussed. The various drawbacks and comments have been mentioned.


The Hawthorne experiments were conducted in the period of 1924-1932. The location that was chosen for these experiments was Western Electric Company’s Hawthorne Works. This company was situated in Chicago. The Hawthorne studies illustrate changes in the environment. These changes are in the form of improvement. It discusses changes in the environment. These changes are temporary and occur due to changes in the environment. This phenomenon is also referred to as Hawthorne effect, a term coined by Henry. A. Landsberger in 1955. Hawthorne effect can be defined as: “An improvement caused by observation of the performance of the workers. This improvement is usually short termed.”

These studies have a very significant effect on the management of different organizations. It discusses the reaction of people to various situations. Although the basis of Hawthorne studies is thought to be illumination research, other changes also have a great effect on the management and performance of the workers in any workplace. This includes maintaining a clean workplace, clearance of obstacles, and relocation of workplaces. All these factors brought about a positive change in the productivity of the workers. The productivity of the workers increased for a short period of time. (Louis, 1990).

Elton Mayo and his Contributions

Elton Mayo was born in 1880 in Australia. He applied the theories studied by him in Sociology to the management studies that were being conducted at that time. His research had a prominent impact on the various management theories. Elton Mayo was famous for leading one of the most prominent experiments which were considered as a turning point in the field of management. During the Second World War, he provided services for the development of supervisor training with the help of his TWI program. He is well known for his contributions in Hawthorne’s experiments for the concept of motivation. He contributed to the human relations management methods. (Trahair, 2006).

Contribution of Elton Mayo’s Personal Background to His Theory

Elton Mayo belonged to a Sociology background. He used to assemble the different sociology theories and apply them on human relations management research. He was able to do this with great efficiency since he excelled in the concept of the needs and requirements of social man. The role that Mayo played in the advancement of management was due to the fact that he had made discoveries about social man and his desired position in the workplace. He stated that employers produced according to their sentiments. (Wood, 2004).

Comments on Hawthorne Experiments

There were prominently three factors defined by the Hawthorne experiments which boasted that they bring about changes in the productivity of the workers. They are as stated below:

  • Rest periods
  • Learning
  • Work pay; this means that the workers will be paid according to the amount of work done by them.

This point faced few criticisms. Theorists said that these factors were not the sole reason for employee effective performance or productivity. Whereas according to Parson, the warm welcome and regard from the observers as well as attention is not the reason workers perform well. However it is the incentives that they are provided make the difference. He says that increase in the incentives, increment in rewards and change in feedback on the performance of the workers is the main reason why workers are motivated to concentrate on their job. He also states that the process of learning affects the procedure of the improvement of the workers’ skills and it is also the feedback that encourages the workers to meet the desired goals of any particular organization.

The Hawthorne effect writing was also criticized by Parson. According to him, the principle of illumination is not worthy to analyze since it has not been published properly. Therefore it is almost impossible to get the details right.

Elton Mayo’s Theory and its Relevance to the Times

Mayo presented his theory after examining and studying an electrical company and observed how change in the physical factors can bring a change in the performance of people. He came to the conclusion that it was not the physical or environmental change that boosted the performance. On the contrary, it depends on the following factors:

  • Working in a team with a competitive boss.
  • Improved communication.
  • Interest should be known in the employees.

With the introduction of Hawthorne’s experiments, the entire scenario of the organizations and their way of working revolutionized. According to mayo, people should be given equal importance in work and their feelings should be regarded. According to him a better working place, a healthy environment, provision of incentives, and proper feedback on the workers’ performance improves the productivity of the workers and ultimately of the organization.

Two aspects of this entire study were observed. The workers were very satisfied and welcomed this new notion. Whereas on the other hand, the organizations were a little hesitant and reluctant in accepting this new approach, since by accepting this concept, they would have to give incentives and more regard to the workers. (Haslam, 2004).

Relevance of this Theory to the Present Time

The Hawthorne theories have brought about a positive change in the behavior and attitude of the managers as well as the workers. The organizations grant the employees their basic rights. The workers are given equal importance and are allowed to participate in discussions. The trend of ultimate boss and subordinates is not very strong anymore. There is mutual collaboration and cooperation among all the employees. Different motivational strategies are being introduced so that the workers can work at a better pace and with more dedication and interest. The employees enjoy their work as a natural part of work experience. Previously people were punished in case the work was not done properly. Nowadays this pattern of work is hardly followed. Currently employees are more capable of directing their own selves and exhibit a better level of commitment to their work as well as organization. (Henderson, 1996).


The Hawthorne experiments were conducted in the period of:

  • 1924-1932
  • 1923-1931
  • 1925-1930

Hawthorne effect discusses change in:

  • Attitude of the employee
  • Behavior
  • Environment

The term Hawthorne effect was coined by:

  • Elton Mayo
  • Roethlisberger
  • Henry. A. Landsberger

Dickson did his PhD in;

  • Philosophy
  • Economics
  • Management

The publication of Hawthorne effect was criticized by:

  • David
  • Maslow
  • Parson


Haslam. S. A. (2004) Psychology in Organizations. Sage Publications.

Henderson. G. (1996) Human Relation Issues in Management. Greenwood Publishing Group.

Louis. J. Budd (1990) On Hawthorne. Duke University Press.

Trahair. R. S. (2006) Elton Mayo: The Humanist Temper. Transaction Publishers.

Wood. C. J. (2004) George Elton Mayo: Critical Evaluations in Business and Management. Taylor and Francis.

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