AP Literary Analysis: The Yellow Wallpaper

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Wisal A. Ibrahim AP Literature and Composition 25 February 2023 The Yellow Wallpaper Analysis The short story The Yellow Wallpaper follows the narrator, a nameless upper-middle-class woman from the late 19th century, as she gradually descends into psychosis as a result of her physical environment. The toxic dynamic between the narrator and her doctor, her husband John, plays a critical role in her insanity. Through its use of historical context, characterization, and narration, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, the author of The Yellow Wallpaper, creates a psychological horror that criticizes the treatment of women in healthcare. The historical context of the story develops the commentary by creating the circumstances that cause the narrator to …show more content…

Women were seen as mentally fragile and hysterical, with treatments such as “rest-cures” existing as a means of not “upsetting” the female patient. This sentiment can be seen throughout the story, from the narrator’s diagnosis to the treatment she receives as a result. For instance, the narrator was not properly diagnosed with postpartum depression, but rather what her brother and husband describe as “ temporary nervous depression—a slight hysterical tendency"(The Project Gutenberg eBook of the Yellow Wallpaper, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman). Despite saying that she is sick, her brother and husband quickly dismiss her concerns and tell her friends and family she is healthy. Furthermore, John insists that in addition to the rest-cure treatment, she needs to refrain from activities that require mental or physical stimulation. Even though the narrator told him she would feel …show more content…

Initially, the narrator is reliable because she is not going through treatment. As the treatment progresses, the narrator becomes increasingly unreliable. This is shown through her perception of reality. For example, in the line,” How those children did tear about here! This bedstead is fairly gnawed!”, the narrator assumes that the damage came from the children who previously lived in the nursery (The Project Gutenberg eBook of the Yellow Wallpaper, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman). Though she is unaware of it, she was responsible for the damages to the bedstead. In addition, her changing perspective on the wallpaper indicates her becoming increasingly unreliable. At first, she states that” This wallpaper has a kind of sub-pattern…a particularly irritating one.” (The Project Gutenberg eBook of the Yellow Wallpaper, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman). As she spends more time in the nursery as part of her treatment and less time partaking in more stimulating activities, she starts to see the pattern as a living woman. She becomes obsessive over the woman in the wallpaper, theorizing that the wallpaper moves because of the woman, and assumes that the woman can escape from the wallpaper. At the end of the story, the narrator locks herself in her room and throws the key to ensure that she will catch the woman in the wallpaper. When her husband John unlocks the

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