In the beginning, the yellow wallpaper is quite unpleasant. The writer describes it as soiled, ripped and an unclean yellow. Moreover, it is of a shapeless pattern that makes the narrator try to figure out how it is organized. When the narrator stares at the wallpaper intensively, she can see a ghostly pattern behind the paper, only visible in certain kind of light. The pattern gradually develops into a desperate woman who crawls and stoops, and tries to escape from the main pattern. At the end, the pattern starts to resemble to become the bars of a cage. The narrator describes that the cage decorates with the heads of many women and all women is trying to escape from the cage.
It can tell from the narrator’s description that the wallpaper, in fact, represents women’s status in the family and in the society in which all of them are trying to escape from the difficult situation and the tradition. The narrator finds herself is trapped by the condition and social perceptions towards women. Gilman, the writer, uses the wallpaper as a symbol to illustrate the nightmarish, horrible domestic life in which so many women are trapped.
The writer also uses the image of wallpaper to mock the questionable, ineffective and even disastrous quiet rest therapy suggested by Mitchell.