The Narrator of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Short Story, The Yellow Wallpaper


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In everyday day life we go through changes and sometimes we even break down to the point we do not know what to do with ourselves, but in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story” The Yellow Wallpaper” the narrator is an obsessive person. The story focuses on a woman who is going through postpartum depression and has had a nervous breakdown. Her husband John moves her into a home where he wants her to rest in isolation to recover from her disorder. Throughout her time in the room the narrator discovers new things and finally understands life.

The narrator is trying to get better from her illness but her husband “He laughs at me so about this wallpaper” (515). He puts her down and her insecurities do not make it any better. She is treated like a child. John says to his wife “What is it little girl” (518)? Since he is taking care of her she must obey him “There comes John, and I must put this away, he hates to have me write a word”. The narrator thinks John is the reason why she cannot get better because he wants her to stay in a room instead of communicating with the world and working outside the house.
The room describes the narrator. The room was once a nursery so it reminds her that she has a baby which she is not able to see or hold. The room was also a playroom so it reminds her once again that she cannot play with or watch her baby play. The room has two windows which she looks out of and sees all the beautiful places she cannot go because of her husband. The bars on the windows represent a prison which her husband has put her in to heal from her illness.

Throughout her time in the room she notices the wallpaper “a smouldering unclean yellow, strangely faded by the slow-turning sunlight” (514). After a couple of days in her opinion the wallpaper is starting to change. She sees “a women stooping down and creeping about behind that pattern” (518). In the daytime she sees the women outside the house “I see her in that long shaded lane, creeping up and down. I see her in those dark grapes arbors, creeping all around the garden“(521). The places where the women is creeping is where the narrator can’t go so she he creeps in the daytime “I always lock the door when I creep by daylight” (520).

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She no longer cares what anybody thinks. She makes looking at the wallpaper part of her everyday life. In spite of the room, the wallpaper is the only thing she notices in the room.

The yellow wallpaper had a secret only the narrator could see. She gets so obsessed with the wallpaper that does not want to leave the room and does not want anybody to come in and disturb her from finding out the secret. She and the women in the wallpaper rip the wallpaper off the wall so the women can escape. This represents the narrator escaping from her husband and the misery he is putting her through by putting her in a room. In the end she escapes “I’ve got out at last,” said I, “in spite of you and Jane. And I’ve pulled off most of the paper, so you cannot put me back”! (524)


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