The narrator in “The Yellow Wallpaper” is a wife and a mother who suffers symptoms of depression and anxiety. Although she does not believe that anything is wrong with her, John who is her physician husband makes her in the “rest cure”. Also, while she was isolated in the nursery in the rented summer home, the narrator is banned to write or do any creative activities. The narrator severely wants to make her husband happy and accept her role as an ideal mother and wife, but she could not satisfy her husband’s needs with her passion to show her creativity. While trying to achieve John’s wishes for the best, the narrator writes in her journal that peace from her extreme loneliness and inaction.
Overtime, Jane begins to obsess over the wall and its features. She mentions, “The patterns, the yellow, the slight coat of dust, and the roughness of the yellow wallpaper.” Jane becomes completely infatuated. She begins to spend all of her time touching, watching, and talking about the wall. Jane once hated the wallpaper.
The main character is quiet, always following orders during the day, but at night she creeps; creeps on to the very edge of the wallpaper to converse with the women trapped inside, for "by daylight, she is subdued" (245). The protagonist in "The Yellow Wallpaper" thoroughly describes how the absence of light changes the paper, claiming "it changes as the light changes" (244) though it is only her perception of it that is distorted. There is a quality to the wallpaper that disturbs her inner being, "things in that paper that nobody knows"
Initially, the narrator is disgusted and irritated by the paper, claiming, “I never saw a worse paper in my life. One of those sprawling flamboyant patterns committing every artistic sin” (339). This reaction mirrors that of a sane person’s--fearing the unknown, they distance themselves from insanity and any iteration of it, seeing it as grotesque and shameful. Yet, as she spends more time in the room, she grows interested in the wallpaper and begins to investigate. She comes to the conclusion that: “I didn 't realize for a long time what the thing was that showed behind, that dim sub-pattern, but now I am quite sure it is a woman” (346).
Her descriptions of the room, with the furniture seemingly being nailed to the floor and the windows being “barred” show an underlying understanding that her thoughts and personality is being confined. The irony present in this description, due to her belief that the room used to be a nursery, shows her early denial of her husband’s dominance over her. As the story progresses and she begins to see the woman behind the wallpaper, the reader is exposed to the narrator’s realization that she is the one that is actually being suppressed. The descriptions of the wallpaper, showing how confining it is for the symbolic woman behind it, shows how the narrator is being trapped by those bars in both her marriage and in her mental illness. Thus when she says, “At night in any kind of light… it becomes bars,” the reader is shown how restricted the narrator feels, reflected through the wallpaper.
She proceeds to explain the contributing factors of the narrator succumbing to her “disease” of hysteria which was isolation from social interaction and the restriction of her own thoughts. She points out that the narrator is confined to a simple square room with nothing to offer in terms of mental health therapy. The narrator’s lack of the ability to interact with anything or anyone leads to infatuation with the wallpaper, which turns out to be “the
(678) in this statement she is challenging herself and this shows the reader she is facing some confusion. The yellow wallpaper in the main characters (the narrator) bedroom is a major point in the story. The yellow wallpaper plays a major role in the woman’s insanity. The woman’s obsession with the wallpaper creates her problem and affects her mind and judgment. This is shown in, “It dwells on my mind so!”
The narrator is a woman who is imaginative trying to make her mind think and realize the meaning of the yellow wallpaper. She describes the wallpaper as, “repellant, almost revolting; smouldering unclean yellow, strangely faded by the slow turning sunlight” (Gilman 641). This specific wallpaper makes the narrator feel a certain way. At first, she does not like the color or how it looks. But then not having anything else to do in the room, she starts examining the wallpaper.
The narrator describes where she lives as a beautiful place to live. At this point in the story the narrator is in a mental hospital. Every perspective and belief she has on where she is at has been put into her head by her husband. Everything she knows about her situation is to calm her down and not make her think for herself. As the story continues the narrator begins to start thinking on her own.
She becomes obsessed with the patterns of the wallpaper, but she mainly notices a woman that she thinks is trying to free herself from the confines of the wall. During the day this woman is still, but when night time comes around, it seems as though the woman creeps around. Towards the end of the story, the narrator has a breakdown and thinks that she is this woman inside of the wallpaper, and begins to perform similar actions like creeping around. This meaning of this scene is simple cause and effect. Not only did she already have postpartum depression, but she is basically trapped in this house for a whole summer with nothing to do so she can heal.
As this progresses, the woman starts to go mad from ignorance and starts to believe there is someone behind the Wallpaper. In her room, the narrator starts to obsess over the Wallpaper. The Wallpaper symbolizes women starting to realize how unfair they were treated and how responded to this. As the women’s illness keeps getting subdued by her husband, she starts to go mad and the wallpaper demonstrates this. In the third entry of her diary she says, “Of
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.
The vast majority of people wouldn’t give the wallpaper much thought, however the narrator becomes obsessed with it. To the narrator, the wallpaper is alive and becomes the focus of all her time. Her overwhelming lure to the wallpaper becomes obvious when she first provides a very vivid description stating “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” (217-218). As she begins to lose her grip on reality, the narrator beings to see faces and eventually a woman within the wallpaper. At first, her description of seeing faces in the wallpaper seems like it could be her mind making since of the varying patterns or just part of her imagination.