The Yellow Wallpaper

TheYellow Wallpaper

TheYellow Wallpaper

Theyellow wallpaper is a short story of a young woman’s descent into astate of madness. It all begins with the vacation that she and herhusband John went to. Depicted as a supportive spouse, John thinks itwise to organize a rest session for his wife after the birth of theirbaby. However, due to the condition that she has, she needs to berested. The theme of subordination of women can be seen in thisillustration. In the particular mansion where the couple stays, thenarrator thinks that the environment is queer.

Apparently,the room in which she sleeps is indicated to have been a nursery andhas several windows for aeration. Her sister in Law Jenny accompaniedthem, and she serves as the house help in the narrative. The roomwhere the main character sleeps described by the barred windows andscratched flows and torn wallpaper [ CITATION Cha92 l 1033 ].Thisexplanation further reveals the gender-based division in the earlytimes where women were regarded inferior and childish while the menseem to be authoritative, superior in wisdom and dominating. Thismanly character eventually leads to the suffering of the woman.

Aparticular wallpaper gains the interest of the narrator who describesit as having a yellow smell. A particular pattern and tornperipheries. The longer this woman stays in the room, the more shebecomes intrigued by the wallpaper which seems to change its meaningevery time. As time goes on, she begins to see a figure in theoverall appearance of the wallpaper and ultimately she believes thatit is a woman creeping behind the patterns.

Astrong urge to free this trapped woman in the picture engulfs thenarrator and she starts to tear off the remaining pieces of paperfrom the wall. On the last day of their vacation, she locks the doorand embarks on stripping off the remainder of the wallpaper. Herhusband arrives, and she refuses to open the door for him. However,John finds another key and gets into the room only to be struck bythe destruction of the house and his wife creeping around thechamber. He faints at this and the woman steps over his static body,claiming that she got out at last even though her husband and sisterin law were against it [ CITATION Cha92 l 1033 ].Here, the woman is driven insane by the prolonged treatment that sheis sure is not working. She embarks on the road to self-liberationeventually achieving an emotional and intellectual relief.

Themain issues that are being addressed include the role of women in thesociety, oppression and the constriction to life within the home. Inthe writing, the author utilizes various ways to describe the issuessurrounding women during that period. Apparently, the insanity thatcovers the woman is used to show a way of protesting against bothmedical and professional oppression against women.

Similarly,the story indicates that husbands and male doctors may seem to bedoing things for the best possible outcomes while women are shown tobe physically and mentally weak or fragile. Apart from that,advocates of women`s rights had a reason to believe that the highnumber of women diagnosed as being mentally ill was part of a setbackto have positions in the male-dominated society. The narrator wasalso barred from writing, and this is an indication of how the womenwere discouraged from a written form [ CITATION Sus89 l 1033 ].As such literature would have been a tool for their ultimatedefiance.

Thewriter’s claim is entangled on the events experienced by womenbeginning from their relevance in professional work as well as theirresponsibilities in the home. Apparently, the author uses this jobbecause the writing was one of the few methods that women could usebecause of the limited rights they had.

Thisinformation is valuable both in that time and today so that thehistorical and the contemporary generation would understand theissues that were faced in the past by women and the relevance of thisstory today. This paper looks at the various interpretations of TheWallpaper and how the life of the author is parallel to the narrationitself.

Inone of her explanations to this description, the author, Gilmanexplained that the purpose of this story was triggered by herpersonal experience as a patient. Suffering from depression, a doctorprescribed for her a rest regimen requiring a strictly domestic lifewithout writing or painting. However, after following this treatmentfor three months, Gilman grew desperate and abandoned the doctor’sprescription. She began working once again and needed up finalizingthe “Yellow Wallpaper.

Inone way we can conclude that she wrote this story as a means ofdelivering her complaints about the diagnosis and treatment.Afterward, Gilman alluded that the doctor eventually changed histreatment methodologies, a claim that has since been refuted byanother literary historian. Also, according to the author’sinterpretation, the story was written to save the readers from suchsituations [ CITATION Qua12 l 1033 ].However, there is a tinge of speculation, which what the doctor didwas part of what he thought was right. Thiscan be supported by the caring and supportive character of thehusband, John.

Onthe contrary, other interpretations are different from the authors.Feminist critics have explicitly come up with an entirely variedexplanation. The rest care treatment regimen has been described tosymbolize the domestic sphere that a woman is supposed to cover.Throughout the story we can see that the narrator is confined to aparticular room and her opinion doesn’t matter much to her husband.This depiction facilitated the interpretation that the position ofthe woman in the society is to remain at home while that of the manis to go out there and work to support his family.

Apparently,the ending of this story seems to have various meanings. In one, somepeople claim that the woman was engulfed by insanity. On the otherhand, others see this as a strong statement by the woman concerning amarriage that she was trapped in and emerged triumphant. Thewallpaper made the woman realize that she could not live a locked-uplife forever. As the story ends, the woman crawls over him, an actthat symbolized her elevation above him, or victory over the man [ CITATION Sus89 l 1033 ].

Thewallpaper itself has a lot of meanings, and it is the main reasonthat the woman in the story reacted the way she did. There issufficient evidence in the narration that the wallpaper mutated onthe conditions in the room, especially when reflecting sunlight andalso the appearance at night. Also, the odor emitted by the yellowpaper is not easily recognized. The more the lady stayed isolated,the more she tried to come up with geometrically related images thatwould give meaning to the wallpaper. However, during the night shecan recognize a woman behind bars which can also be taken as afeminist observation. In his perspective, the husband believes thatwhat he is doing is in the best of interest, and he is shocked by theturn of events that happen in the end. Similar to the overallinterpretation, some individuals might argue that the storyillustrates the surprise that Gilman’s doctor would have when heread the story and the feminists tend to say that the womaneventually attained freedom [ CITATION Qua12 l 1033 ].

Ina somewhat different interpretation, Gilman’s narration displayswomen as passive and powerless individuals who can go to the extentof declining treatment. Also, hysteria was a common diagnosisstereotyped with the ladies who engaged in studying. Physicians,therefore, used authority, and it came to be general knowledge that adocile woman is one who has been cured of hysteria. The rest cure wasthus a remedy that forced them to conform to social roles withoutraising havoc. However, the effects of such treatment have beenportrayed as detrimental.


Thedesperate nature of the narrator, her loneliness, and idleness prompther to derive sense from the yellow wallpaper. She feels the need tointerpret it because it symbolizes something that directly has aneffect on her life. In the process, this particular wallpaperdevelops symbolism. Under an absolute light reflection, she canfigure out the image of a woman behind bars, seemingly crawlinglooking for an escape route. We can, therefore, be convinced that thewallpaper represents the family structure, the medical field or eventradition in which an individual, especially a woman may be trapped.Although humble and seemingly domestic, the paper on the wall hasbeen applied in a skillful manner to depict the home life in which somany women have been bound to.


Lanser, S. (1989). Feminist Criticism ‘’, and the Politics of Color in America. Feminist Studies, 415-451.

Quawas, R. (2012). A New Woman`s Journey Into Insanity: Descent and Return in . Journal of the Australasian Universities Modern Language Association, 35-37.

Stetson, C. P. (1892). The Yellow Wall-paper. A Story. The New England Magazine, 11.