Conflicts of the Narrator
In Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper,” the narrator must deal with several different conflicts. She is diagnosed with “temporary nervous depression and a slight hysterical tendency” (Gilman 221). Most of her conflicts, such as, differentiating from creativity and reality, her sense of entrapment by her husband, and not fitting in with the stereotypical role of women in her time, are centered around her mental illness and she has to deal with them.
The most obvious conflict the narrator has to deal with is living in the room with the yellow wallpaper and differentiating creativity from reality. The narrator becomes fond of the wallpaper and feels an excessive need to figure out the pattern. She says, “I know a little of the principle of design, and I know this thing was not arranged on any laws of radiation, or alternation, or repetition, or symmetry, or anything else that I have ever heard of” (Gilman 224). Her days become preoccupied with the wallpaper and she feels a distinct connection to it. While she tries to decode the wallpaper’s pattern, her creativity allows her to see a face in the wallpaper. She says, “There is a recurrent spot where the pattern lolls like a broken neck and two bulbous eyes stare at you upside down” (Gilman 223). As she continues to study the wallpaper, she comes to believe that she sees a woman creeping in the chaotic wallpaper who is trapped behind it: “The front pattern does- and no wonder! The woman behind shakes it!” (Gilman 227). She begins to have a bond with this woman and can relate to her. The woman in the wallpaper is essentially the narrator. They are similar in the sense that they are both trapped and unable to escape. Towards the end of the story, the narrator reaches a state of insanity where she can no longer differentiate herself from the figure she sees in the wallpaper. She tells us, “I suppose I shall have to get back behind the pattern when it comes night, and that is...
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