In the short story “The Yellow Wall-Paper,” The Narrator is trapped by the symbolic hell that is society, treated as a child, and suppressed against her will. John, The Narrator’s husband, does not care about her well-being, as displayed by his being gone for long periods and lack of nurturing behavior. “John laughs at me, of course, but one expects that in marriage” (The Yellow Wall-Paper 74). He has forced her to live in a secluded house, “standing well back from the road, quite three miles from the village” depriving her on social interaction (The Yellow Wall-Paper 75). Woloch says women need social groups to maintain a healthy mentality (Woloch 94).
The Narrator is treated like a child, believed that she can not care for herself, being that “…he takes all care from me” (The Yellow Wall-Paper 75). John also is ignorant as to how The Narrator actually feels and assumes her feelings, for “John does not know how much I suffer” (The Yellow Wall-Paper 76). The Narrator is oppressed by males and society, “But I must say what I feel…” (The Yellow Wall-Paper 80). John also gives The Narrator degrading names, like “…little girl?” (The Yellow Wall-Paper 81). John makes The Narrator feel insignificant in the real world, putting her down and treating her like a child. This is symbolic of almost all marriages at the time.
Eventually, isolation causes The Narrator to become mentally unstable. Without being able to express herself or have someone close to her, her depression consumes her mind and clouds her thinking. She “…had peeled off yards of that paper” (The Yellow Wall-Paper 86). The wallpaper represents the prison and hell that society created for woman. It “...is repellant, almost revolting; a smoldering unclean yellow, strangely faded-by the slow-turning sunlight” (The Yellow Wall-Paper 76). Sunlight is the society that has always existed and the fading is the rights and oppression of women. This is how it represents society. It represents hell because it is...
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