When the narrator first sees the paper she is repulsed by the shade and the pattern. It is
From the beginning of their tenure in the summer home, the narrator’s fixation on the wallpaper in her quarters is ever present. She states that it is the worst paper she had ever seen. It is dull with a vague pattern that follows no rules of how it is laid out. The color is “almost revolting; a smoldering unclean yellow, strangely faded by the slow-turning sunlight’” (Gilman)
Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s "The Yellow Wall-Paper," does more than just tell the story of a woman who suffers at the hands of 19th century quack medicine. Gilman created a protagonist with real emotions and a real psych that can be examined and analyzed in the context of modern psychology. In fact, to understand the psychology of the unnamed protagonist is to be well on the way to understanding the story itself. "The Yellow Wall-Paper," written in first-person narrative, charts the psychological state of the protagonist as she slowly deteriorates into schizophrenia (a disintegration of the personality).
“The Yellow Wallpaper,” written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman in 1892, is a great example of early works pertaining to feminism and the disease of insanity. Charlotte Gilman’s own struggles as a woman, mother, and wife shine through in this short story capturing the haunting realism of a mental breakdown.The main character, much like Gilman herself, slips into bouts of depression after the birth of her child and is prescribed a ‘rest cure’ to relieve the young woman of her suffering. Any use of the mind or source of stimulus is strictly prohibited, including the narrator’s favorite hobby of writing. The woman’s husband, a physician, installs into his wife that the rest treatment is correct and will only due harm if not followed through. This type of treatment ultimately drives the woman insane, causing her to envision a woman crawling behind the yellow wallpaper of her room. Powerlessness and repression the main character is subject to creates an even more poignant message through the narrator’s mental breakdown. The ever present theme of subordination of women in “The Yellow Wallpaper” is advanced throughout the story by the literary devices of symbolism, imagery, and allegory.
The vivid descriptions in “The Yellow Wallpaper” help to bring the reader along in the narrators decent into a kind of psychosis. It starts mildly, with her describing the color of wallpaper as “repellant, almost revolting; a smoldering unclean yellow” (Gilman 528). As more time passes she begins to see more things in the paper such as “a recurrent spot where the pattern lolls like a broken neck and two bulbous eyes start at you,” and for it have “so much expression in an inanimate thing” (Gilman 592). As the pattern and descriptions get more twisted, we get visual clues of the madness that is slowly consuming the narrator. The color of the paper even begins to become a physical thing she can smell descried as, “creep[ing] all over the house...sulking...hiding...lying in wait for me…It gets into my hair” (Gilman 534). In the end we get a graphic visual representation of her full psychosis
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
In contrast, at the end of the story, Jane’s shocking proclamations of, “I’ve got out at last,” and, “In spite of you (John) and Jane. And I have pulled of most of the paper so you can’t put me back,” (336), mark Jane’s final mental collapse. The changes that Jane’s mental state go through are made more powerful by Gilman’s use of interior monologue, which allows the reader to experience the change first hand through Jane’s thoughts.
The narrator in "The Yellow Wallpaper" becomes haunted by the wallpaper in her room. The setting takes place in the room, she dislikes the room from the moment she sees it and fells suffocated by it. Her feeling of suffocation and being haunted by the wallpaper helps the reader become more aware of her motivation for tearing the wallpaper down.
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.
The narrator’s obsession with the wallpaper eventually makes her story spin so far out of control, her grasp on reality is completely lost and to every observer it is obvious. She believes people are living in the wallpaper and they come and go
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
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
As the protagonist suffers from her “nervous condition”, the isolated environment causes her to only get worse. Being trapped in the bedroom with yellow wallpaper contributes her emotional distress to become overpowering. The inability to verbally express her feelings of loneliness causes her to write in a more creative way about her relationships with objects in the room, specifically the yellow wallpaper. She begins to write about the yellow wallpaper as if it is suppose to have some sort of significance, in which it does. In the beginning of the narrator’s isolation, her attention is focused on the details of the yellow wallpaper’s pattern that are “dull enough to confused the eye in following, pronounced enough constantly to irritate and provoke study” (438). The wallpaper’s characteristics become hard to
Gilman allows the readers to see how the depression has sunk its teeth into Jane and will only let go when Jane has given up on everything that she has ever lived for. Her downward spiral into mania begins when she states, “I pulled… and before morning we had peeled off yards of that paper…I declared I would finish it today” (319). Her entire stay in the rest home has built up to her destruction of the paper. Instead of escaping from behind the paper, her depression, Jane decides to rip it away from her life. She rips away the paper to release the Jane that she once was from her riddling depression. Once she starts removing the yellow wallpaper, Jane’s anger takes over her. She starts to think desperate thoughts and can even see herself jumping from the window (320). Jane sees that the quickest way to relieve her seemingly never ending pain and suffering in life is to end it. Through this, Gilman explains how Jane is not only ripping the paper from the wall, but also healing herself from her depression by ripping herself out of this
The wallpaper is beginning to take on the role of controlling her life. As the days proceed on and she continues to sit in this isolated room, she begins to notice objects incorporated throughout the patterns. Every day the shapes become significantly clearer to her until one moment it appears to be a figure trapped within the walls (734). This aversion to the color completely shifts at this point toward hallucination. The wallpaper now has complete control of the narrator’s mind and sanity.