Essay About The Yellow Wallpaper
“The Yellow Wallpaper” a short story written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, describes a gothic tale of a woman falling into deep insanity when she is advised to bed rest in a menacing yellow room. Gilman successfully describes the iniquity of family life, feminine oppression, and the repellant yellow wallpaper’s detailed and complicated patterns to indicate its symbolic of this repressive society.
This short story takes place in America in the 1890s and although it was the turn of the century the standard rights of women were still undeveloped. Women of the time would simply follow what their husbands would say and were seen as nothing more than just a wife and/or mother. At the beginning of the story, Gilman describes a quite beautiful home that the narrator’s husband brings her to, for them to stay in for the summer. Although she feels as if the house is “haunted”, she has no choice but to carry on with her husbands plan. It is later disclosed that she had been diagnosed by her husband with “temporary nervous depression” and “slight hysterical tendency”. This helps conclude the resentment the narrator feels for her husband for as she doesn’t feel he believes that she is ill. She learns that she cannot trust her husband because he continually lies to her by telling her that she is getting better when in reality she knows she’s only getting worse. The narrator describes a journal that she would use as a creative outlet as “dead paper and a great relief to my mind”. This is why when the narrator’s husband takes away her journal it only adds to her illness. The journal as well represents the opposition she has for her husband and eventually the patriarchal society he symbolizes.
She is sent to bed rest in a room covered with the yellow wallpaper in which the narrator describes as “a smoldering unclean yellow, strangely faded by the slow-turning sunlight…. dull… in some places, a sickly sulfur tint in others”. The narrator’s husband’s desire to ban her from writing pushes her to grow an alarming obsession with the yellow paper. The narrator begins to spend most of the daytime sleeping so when it is night time she can watch the developments in the wallpaper. She notices that the yellow wallpaper has a unique smell explained to be as “quite the subtlest” yet “ most enduring odor”. Every day she notices new patterns appear in the wallpaper, and she can barely keep track of all of them. Her health begins to improve, and she feels calm. She finally has something to look forward to due to the stimulation provided by the yellow wallpaper. She decides to keep this new obsession from her husband because she fears that he might take it away from her just how he took away her journal.
The narrator later discovers that the wallpaper shakes at night; The woman she sees in the wallpaper. forcibly shakes the bars of the pattern as she tries to climb through. The narrator begins to wonder if there could possibly be more than just one women in the yellow wallpaper. The narrator’s conclusions lead to the idea that the woman in the wallpaper not only represents herself attempting to escape the cage like society, restricted from her own emotions but many other women in the 1890s time period.
The narrators curiosity eventually leads her to find a way out of the wallpaper, symbolic of the narrative in the story finally breaking free from the constraints of society.