The Yellow Wallpaper begins with an introduction of an anonymous woman. The reader is introduced to her husband named John. They also are told about a newborn as well as her sister-in-law who have a rented home that they reside in. One can quickly observe that the narrator is battling postpartum depression and the summer home is a tool to assist with her becoming better from her condition. Her doctor prescribed her with the treatment of adequate rest and complete tranquility. He also recommended that she not participate in writing or any activity that could strain the psyche.
From the words of the narrator, it seems as if the room is more like an area of captivity than freedom. It does seem to be acting as a method of rehabilitation but more strict isolation. Her husband John expresses that she is sick but it is more temporary than permanent and he does not truly believe that mental disease exists. John chooses to follow the doctors orders and does not let his wife participate in any psychological activities and makes sure that she is not able to spend time with the newborn. On the contrary, the narrator strongly feels that work and exciting events would be helpful to her condition, but her view is basically meaningless. Her passion is to write but as instructed by the doctor, she is not able to carry this exercise out. With no outlet in sight, the woman decides to trace the yellow wallpaper that is coming off of the wall in abundant pieces. Sadly, her husband comes and she must stop before he sees her drawing.
As the story moves on, it picks up two weeks after this occurrence. This is when the narrator is given the opportunity to write again. Although she firmly believes that it will assist her with making some of her tension disappears, she obeys her husbands order that she should not write. The narrator expresses that she is extremely unhappy, but again John equates her feelings to only being very nervous. This is made awfully clear to the reader when reads that he pranks at her hatred for the wallpaper, and though she needs him to repaper the chamber, he refuses to give in to her fancies. In another instance, the narrator makes the claim that she can see people walking beside the house, but once again John assures her not to entertain her imagination.
He lets her know that if she gets involved with her imagination, she will become overly excited. However, the narrator continues to look at the wallpaper and she starts to think that she sees eyes that are staring at her. Also, when there is sunlight that shines into the room, the narrator can view a creepy figure that is hidden behind the pattern of the wallpaper.
The setting of the Yellow Wallpaper is interesting because it takes place in a summer home, which is about three miles from a nearby village. Although the house is large and has some fascinating features, it seems to have recently entered a state of disrepair. In the initial part of the story, the narrator seems to address her concerns with the condition of the house. However, as the story progresses her focus is placed on the nursery room with the yellow wallpaper. Although this room appears to be a location of calmness, it is truly a place of imprisonment. The nursery has bars on the windows, and the bed is merely glued to the floor.
The condition and features of the nursey as well as the broken home act as symbols of the narrators mental illness. The symbol that stands out the most by far is the yellow wallpaper. It can be interpreted that the yellow wallpaper is a symbol of the narrators mind. Looking into a deeper meaning of the yellow wallpaper and the narrators mind, the reader can correlate it with the manner in which women were treated in the nineteenth century. The fact that the yellow wallpaper is described as having patterns that are pointless, curves that are not exact and angles that destroy themselves is symbolic of how woman were controlled by men in the nineteenth century. Symbols such as the nursery, the holes in the wall, and the layer that is nailed down are also crucial to the meaning of the story. The nursery can also be a perception of women being children in the nineteenth century.
With the nursery being a place for a child, it shows how women were placed in society during the time this story was published. The nursery is also seen in a prison like image, which is symbolic of the emotional and social state that women lived in during the nineteenth century. In addition to the symbolism that is displayed in the story, it is told from a first person narrative due to the fact that it is told from a narrator who is an anonymous woman in the story.
The reader is presented with her emotions and experiences. The narrator is clearly dealing with a mental breakdown and it is difficult to understand if her thoughts and views are not official. They may be illusions or events that only take place within her warped sense of reality. Although this can be confusing, it helps the reader delve deep into the mind of the protagonist, which gives the reader more insight on the situation the narrator is dealing with.
The Yellow Wallpaper is an interesting piece of literature because it was written in the form of a journal. The style of writing transforms as the writers mood changes and her mental condition worsens. This is clear how the sentences become less lengthy and consistently more syncopated. This is to display how the writers mental state is becoming worse. In instances, there are parts where the tone of the writer changes significantly. It appears that the narrator is never allowed to think for herself and the reader can see the frustration that grows in her thoughts from the fact that she is not able to think for herself or make her own decisions.
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