The Yellow Wallpaper Close Reading
The narrator of The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman discovers that the woman trapped in the yellow wallpaper is really herself and reflects that there are countless other women trapped and oppressed by society just as she is. Through her descent into madness, the narrator is able to finally free herself, but not without losing her sanity in the process.
When the narrator states: “I pulled and she shook, I shook and she pulled” (Gilman 517), this goes to demonstrate that the woman in the wall that she’s been trying to free is really herself. The woman trapped in the wallpaper is a significant metaphor to represent that the narrator is trapped in an oppressive society, and more specifically marriage, where she is wrongfully confined to isolation as a “cure” to her madness. Furthermore, the narrator intends to tie up the woman in the wallpaper if she tries to get away, but ends up “securely fastened now by [her] well-hidden rope” (Gilman 518). She is indeed the woman that she is so desperately trying to save.
The recurrent imagery of the women in the wallpaper is a strong statement about the unjust treatment of women in the late nineteenth century. The narrator realizes that she is not alone in her suffering as she doesn’t like to look out of the windows because “there are so many of those creeping women, and they creep so fast” (Gilman 518). Normally, windows are a symbol of opportunities, but in this case the window is a symbol of reality that the narrator does not want to face. She is distressed at the thought of other women suffering as she has, and so prefers to stay creeping inside the room, away from the cruel reality of society. As the narrator tears down the wallpaper in an effort to free herself and the trapped women, she realizes that she cannot “reach far without something to stand on” (Gilman 517). This demonstrates how she cannot do much to help herself alone. Without any support from others in...
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