Identity In The Yellow Wallpaper

1008 Words5 Pages
It is evident that change is a natural component in the average person’s life. Some however, are more drastic than others. This is exhibited through the first-person narrator of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story, “The Yellow Wall Paper”, who undergoes a drastic change in her health due to postpartum depression, her relationships with the individuals around her, and her isolation. These changes later develop an internal conflict in the form of a troubling identity plight.
Due to the famous rest treatment in which the narrator is told to follow, her interactions with other individuals is severely limited. Most of her social interactions are between her and her husband John. The narrator’s relationship with her husband is considered to
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Being a woman in the early twentieth century, she simply followed what her husband told her. She did not have her own voice and kept her thoughts to herself. With that being said, it is as if her identity is simply that of the average woman during her time. However, the days she spends in confinement go by, the identity of that woman drifts away and she is overtaken by the identity of her own mental illness. As said in Diana Martin’s journal on “Images in Psychiatry”, while the narrator in isolation she becomes “increasingly despondent and nervous”. Martin states that the narrator’s confinement in the upstairs bedroom fortifies her mental illness developing into “a frightening hallucinatory world constructed around the pattern of the yellow paper on the wall.” This shift in her identity happens as the shift in her disposition towards the wallpaper changes. The wallpaper is a visible metaphor that eventually becomes her identity. In the beginning of her stay in the bedroom she says the wallpaper is “committing artistic sin” (Par34) and can push anyone to “suddenly commit suicide” (Par35) These comments show her despise towards the wallpaper and the separation she originally has from it. However, we later see a shift in her feelings towards the wallpaper as she states that she is growing “really fond of the room in spite of the wallpaper” and comes to a realization that it may be “because of the wallpaper” (Par 94) As her opinions on the wallpaper begin to change, the progression of her mental instability becomes increasing visible. She begins to build a relationship with the wallpaper and claims that “There are things in that paper that nobody knows about” (Par 22) her. As this relationship with the wallpaper builds, her sanity begins to slip, and the hallucinations begin in a somewhat minor manor. In her first mention of “the woman” she says that the pattern on the
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