The yellow wallpaper In the story, wallpaper, a usually feminine, floral decoration on the interior of walls, is a symbol of female imprisonment within the domestic sphere. Over the course of the story, the wallpaper becomes a text of sorts through which the narrator exercises her literary imagination and identifies with a feminist double figure. When John curbs her creativity and writing, the narrator takes it upon herself to make some sense of the wallpaper. She reverses her initial feeling of being watched by the wallpaper and starts actively studying and decoding its meaning. She untangles its chaotic pattern and locates the figure of a woman struggling to break free from the bars in the pattern.
This aids in leading to her mental condition deteriorating even further due to the fact that she must simply put up with her prison. As the story progressives and the narrator spends more of her time in the room the more she becomes accustomed to her prison. Her obsession with the yellow wallpaper that surrounds her constantly grows to an unhealthy addiction. “I’m getting really fond of the room in spite of the wallpaper. Perhaps because of the wallpaper.
Gilman uses symbols to explain the how women are trapped in domestic life. The symbol that Gilman uses the yellow wallpaper in the room she is confined in. At first, the wallpaper is just awful as she says “The color is repellent, almost revolting; a smoldering unclean yellow.” She is disgusted by it and understands why children, who have been in this room, would want to tear it down. Then, the wallpaper becomes a point of curiosity as she wants to discover the organization of the pattern. She said, “...and I determine for the thousandth time that I will follow that pointless pattern to some sort of a conclusion,” as if the wallpaper was made with symmetry in mind.
After staring at the wallpaper long enough, she finds that the pattern moves because of the woman behind it trying to get out. She describes the woman as “all the time trying to climb out. But nobody could climb through that pattern – it strangles so” (353). This is another reference to how the lives of women are restricting. The barred windows represents the world of possibilities, but the narrator says, “I don't like to look out of the windows even – there are so many of those creeping women and they creep so fast”(353), because of how the women must “creep” around without being seen or
ENG110 As it would appear The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is a narrative describing the trials a woman faces when battling PPD (postpartum depression). However, under further investigation it is clear that the meaning Gilman imposes on her audience is the concept of entrapment to amplify the absurdity of male dominance in the 17th C. Opposing characteristics of the female main character and her husband, in conjunction with imagery and the metaphor of “the woman in the wallpaper” collaboratively work to express the standards expected of a woman and the feeling of isolation evoked by powerlessness. The central character of The Yellow Wallpaper is our narrator who serves as both mother and wife. Her role in the story is contrasted by the leading male character her husband, John, a physician. However their union seems less like a marriage and more like the relationship one would see between parent and child.
The wallpaper is used characterically to reflect the marriage the narrator finds herself ambushed inside. At the start of the short story, the wallpaper is merely seen as an aberrant bore, but as the narrative progresses, the wallpaper becomes much more baleful and frightening. As a site of symbolism, the symbol has three functions in Charlotte Perkins Gilman s ’, “The Yellow Wallpaper”: it reveals the wallpaper including the imagery, imprisonment and symbolism. The imagery of the wallpaper in Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” transitions as the short story is developed in order to emulate the increasing realization of the monopoly the narrator’s marriage has upon herself. The very first descriptions illustrate her initial animus by describing it as “one of those sprawling flamboyant patterns committing every artistic sin” (Perkins 41-42).
The narrator’s obsession with the wallpaper that surrounds her bedroom begins merely as intrigue and climaxes to a point where reality and what she imagines within the wallpaper becomes blurred. This climax represents her journey from rationality to insanity as the wallpaper becomes more twisted and alive around her. This wallpaper ultimately represents the oppression of her mind that is being caused by her post partum depression, as well as her husband’s ineffective healing methods. At first she finds the wallpaper being “one of those sprawling, flamboyant patterns committing every artistic sin” (Gilman 988). This could be a representation of the beginning of her depression which was initially just an annoyance to her which she does not fully understand.
“The Yellow Wallpaper” is driven by the narrator’s sense that the wallpaper is a text she must interpret, that it symbolizes something that affects her directly. Accordingly, the wallpaper develops its symbolism throughout the story. At first it seems merely unpleasant: it is ripped, soiled, and an “unclean yellow.” The worst part is the ostensibly formless pattern, which fascinates the narrator as she attempts to figure out how it is organized. After staring at the paper for hours, she sees a ghostly sub-pattern behind the main pattern, visible only in certain light. Eventually, the sub-pattern comes into focus as a desperate woman, constantly crawling and stooping, looking for an escape from behind the main pattern, which has come to resemble the bars of a cage.
Especially when she reminisces in the final stanza about the time she was young and beautiful, illustrating her complete lack of confidence. Nevertheless, she is still presented as a foul character who threatens the reader, with the line ‘Be terrified’. The poem also ends with the line ‘Look at me now’ which has a double entendre (double meaning). It could be read as a cry of despair or, as a threat – if you did look at Medusa you would die! This leaves the reader feeling conflicting emotions for the character, probably similar to how Medusa herself feels in the poem.
To show the despair and unsatisfaction of life in London the author employs a lot of anaphoric repetitions “And I want to feel young again: I want to feel as I felt when I used to go bright-eyed through Athens all night long”, semantic repetition “It's awful for a Dryad not to want to dance. It's worse than not dancing”, parallel constructions and repetition “They dance because there's nothing else to do. They yawn because there's nothing else to say. They drink because they don't want to eat. They eat because there don't want to drink”.