What Does The Yellow Wallpaper Symbolize

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The Yellow Wallpaper Analysis If walls could speak, what would they say? This is a question that several people have pondered and perhaps even feared. The reason to this is quite simple, every wall has a secret. The walls of a cheap motel will testify to the affairs of a cheating spouse. The walls of a neighbor would testify of domestic violence, or perhaps even child abuse. For years, walls have been like tombstones, holding within them ageing secrets that will never be told. Some have painted them over and over again with various shades of color, so much that the original color would take years to decipher. Others have covered them up with wallpaper. Charlotte Gilman once wrote a tale in which she described a room whose walls were entirely…show more content…
The way John creates a sudden fear in his wife which provokes her to startle and hide her journal speaks volumes of his influence over her life. Gilman’s use of symbolism first begins to take flight when the woman in her story suddenly begins to notice the wallpaper. It becomes evident only through her use of symbolism that controlling men trap women from all of their potential. The wallpaper in her story symbolizes women who have long been repressed by such men, and by society. Gilman demonstrates this very notion in the slightest ways, such as when the woman first describes the wallpaper as if it had been used by a room of boys: “The paint and paper look as if a boy’s school had used it. It is stripped off – the paper – in great patches all around the head of my bed, about as far as I can reach, and in a great place on the other side of the room low down. I never saw a worse paper in my life.” This first impression of the room is obviously a negative one. Yet hidden within this description lay distressing truths. The fact that the woman describes the wallpaper as “used up” by boys gives us a notion that she is implying that for years women have been used by men. This has resulted in years of low standards of self worth. A woman’s self conception of herself has been diminished when compared to that of men. Gilman seeks to illustrate this point even as she describes the appearance of the wallpaper: “The color is repellent, almost revolting; a smoldering unclean yellow, strangely faded by the slow-turning sunlight.” Here, it might appear that Gilman is stating that women have been long faded out by men, and uses the terminology “slow turning sunlight” to illustrate the long days of which such repression has been endured. Keeping this in mind, her point is more vividly made as the wife also suggests: “No wonder the children hated it! I should hate it myself if I had to live in this room long. There comes John,
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