The story "The Yellow Wallpaper," by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, is a story about control. In the late 1800's, women were looked upon as having no effect on society other than bearing children and keeping house. It was difficult for women to express themselves in a world dominated by males. The men held the jobs, the men held the knowledge, the men held the key to the lock known as society . . . or so they thought. The narrator in "The Wallpaper" is under this kind of control from her husband, John. Although most readers believe this story is about a woman who goes insane, it is actually about a woman’s quest for control of her life.
"The Yellow Wallpaper" takes a close look at one woman's mental deterioration. The narrator is emotionally isolated from her husband. Due to the lack of interaction with other people the woman befriends the reader by secretively communicating her story in a diary format. Her attitude towards the wallpaper is openly hostile at the beginning, but ends with an intimate and liberating connection. During the gradual change in the relationship between the narrator and the wallpaper, the yellow paper becomes a mirror, reflecting the process the woman is going through in her room.
The symbolism of multiple aspects of “The Yellow Wallpaper” help to make the reader understand the subordination of women and the heinousness of such subordination. Moonlight is the first symbolism one can see the prominence of. The moon has long been a symbol of the woman as with early
The yellow wallpaper is a symbol of oppression in a woman who felt her duties were limited as a wife and mother. The wallpaper shows a sign of female imprisonment. Since the wallpaper is always near her, the narrator begins to analyze the reasoning behind it. Over time, she begins to realize someone is behind the
As the reader is introduced to the main character in the story, she is heard talking about strange things happening around her. She secretly wrote her thought in a journal but her husband was against it and never wanted her to do anything. The nameless narrator in her madness sees a woman in the pattern of the wallpaper. In addition, she sees the woman struggling against the bars of the paper and this is a symbol for the struggle of women who attempt to break out from the infringing rules of the society. The woman the narrator sees caught in the wallpapers also parallels her virtual imprisonment in an isolated estate away from her child by her mean husband.
She explained this in Why I Wrote the Yellow Wallpaper. After the loss of her child she admits she suffered from a sort of mental breakdown but never had any sort of hallucinations. The actual yellow wallpaper in the story was described to be hideous just as her situation was. This ugly situation “the wallpaper” is what had her trapped and she felt she need to free herself by tarring it down. The nursery room she was staying in resembled her being stuck in a period of morning for the lose of her child. Her doctor at the time and the doctor in the story was of the male gender along with the males being the ones that told her what to do and what was wrong with her and how to feel symbolizes how she felt oppressed by men and how other women in society did as well. This oppressing lead her to seeing the women in the wallpaper. She felt the need to free this woman and capture her because she initially wanted to free herself from the situation as well as find herself and her dignity
The narrator in “The Yellow Wallpaper” is told she needs to rest constantly to overcome her sickness, so she is forced to stay in the old nursery where there is yellow-orange wallpaper with a busy, obnoxious pattern that she hates. She tries to study the wallpaper to distinguish the pattern, and as time goes on she believes she sees a woman moving around in the background of the pattern. Also, during this period of time the character’s condition is worsening, because her husband is causing her mind to weaken by not allowing her to exert herself at all; he says she is not to think about her condition, walk through the garden or visit family. All she can do is sleep and trace the wallpaper, and being cooped up in the room causes her to begin hallucinating. The narrator sees the woman trying to escape from the wallpaper throughout the night, and she ultimately completely breaks down and believes that she is the woman.
Instructed to abandon her intellectual life and avoid stimulating company, she sinks into a still-deeper depression invisible to her husband, which is also her doctor, who believes he knows what is best for her. Alone in the yellow-wallpapered nursery of a rented house, she descends into madness. Everyday she keeps looking at the torn yellow wallpaper. While there, she is forbidden to write in her journal, as it indulges her imagination, which is not in accordance with her husband's wishes. Despite this, the narrator makes entries in the journal whenever she has the opportunity. Through these entries we learn of her obsession with the wallpaper in her bedroom. She is enthralled with it and studies the paper for hours. She thinks she sees a woman trapped behind the pattern in the paper. The story reaches its climax when her husband must force his way into the bedroom, only to find that his wife has pulled the paper off the wall and is crawling around the perimeter of the room.
However, the most important aspect of this room is the yellow wallpaper. The narrator despises it, loathing the colour and it’s pattern. She writes that it is “. . .dull enough to confuse the eye in following, pronounced enough to constantly irritate and provoke study, and when you follow the lame uncertain curves for a little distance they suddenly commit suicide--plunge off at outrageous angles, destroy themselves in unheard of contradictions.” (Gilman). This description of the wallpaper serves the purpose to show the reader the unjust restrictions of society that the narrator is subjected to; “. . .commentators have seen in this description of the wallpaper a general representation of “the oppressive structures of society in which [the narrator] finds herself” (Madwoman 90), . . .” (Haney-Peritz 116). The statement of “dull enough to confuse the eye” and “constantly irritating and provoking study” are alluding to the narrator’s sense of inferiority and burden while the “lame and uncertain curves” are referencing the absurd suggestions that her husband is providing. Finally the “suicide” is the unfortunate fate that is destined to occur if his counsel is followed. When describing the wallpaper the narrator writes that “The color is repellent, almost
The woman in "The Yellow Wallpaper" is slowly deteriorating in mental state. When she first moves into the room in the old house, the wallpaper intrigues her. Its pattern entrances her and makes her wonder about its makeup. But slowly her obsession with the wallpaper grows, taking over all of
Similarly, “The Yellow Wallpaper” symbolizes the trapped narrator with an urgency to escape from her dwelling. Like Elisa, the narrator finds a task that would keep her boredom away as “life is very much more exciting than it used to be” (443). By staring at the wallpapers pattern constantly all day, she is no longer bored. In addition, the narrator believes that in order to escape she must free the woman behind the wallpaper. The narrator turns insane by visioning a woman in the wallpaper and trying to escape. The narrator is imprisoned, and the bothersome patter of the yellow wallpaper begins to straighten out to her. The narrator finds a channel of hope outside the windows, through the bars, wanting to leave the room and depart into the real world. Both Elisa Allen and the narrator feel a need, a desire for an escape from their current lives.
The yellow wallpaper is the most obvious symbol found in the story. The yellow wallpaper symbolizes how women were portrayed in the nineteenth century. In the story the narrator describes the wallpaper as "One of those sprawling, flamboyant patterns, pronounced enough sin. It is dull enough to confuse the eye in following, pronounced enough constantly to irritate and provoke study, and when you follow the lame uncertain curves for a little distance they suddenly commit suicide - plunge off at outrageous angles, destroy themselves in unheard-of contraindications" (Gilman 545). The narrator basically feels that her life is dull and boring which can lead to her committing suicide. Later on in the story the wallpaper was described as “The color is hideous enough, and unreliable enough, and infuriating enough, but the pattern is torturing. You think you have mastered it, but just as you get well underway in following, it turns back somersault and there you are. It slaps you in the face, knocks you down, and tramples upon you. It is like a bad dream” (Gilman 548). The pattern in the wallpaper basically represents the narrator’s mindset. The narrator calls herself “hideous” and “unreliable.” Women during this time period were often view as “unreliable”
Central to the story is the wallpaper itself. It is within the wallpaper that the narrator finds her hidden self and her eventual damnation/freedom. Her obsession with the paper begins subtly and then consumes both the narrator and the story. Once settled in the long-empty “ancestral estate,” a typical gothic setting, the narrator is dismayed to learn that her husband has chosen the top-floor nursery room for her. The room is papered in horrible yellow wallpaper, the design of which “commit[s] every artistic sin”(426). The design begins to fascinate the narrator and she
She has found purpose in this paper. Indeed she cannot be understood by anyone except the woman in the yellow wallpaper. Her creeping about is symbolic of her hiding, sometimes in broad daylight, from a world that looks at her as an outcast because she doesn’t want to be a typical domestic ornament. Perhaps the yellow wallpaper acted as a mirror for our narrator. As she peered into the wall’s secrets night after night her vanity gradually became insanity. She knew she could not free herself in the world she lived in.