How can a simple old yellow wallpaper drive someone insane? “The Yellow Wallpaper”, a short story by Charlotte Gilman, is about a married couple whose wife is a little sick, and John (her husband) forbidden her leave a room that has old yellow wallpaper where she’s left alone constantly and the lack of something to occupy her time causes the her to become delusional. John’s assumption of his own superior wisdom leads him to dominate his wife, all in the name of “helping” her. She’s like a child unable to stand up for herself feeling like she’s in prison that has four walls with some old yellow wallpaper. The theme of this story is oppression and the importance of self-expression because her husband was making decisions for her like keeping her in a room where she didn’t want to be; therefor making her feel with no authority over her life in an unjust manner.
The narrator didn’t give the character a name through the story because she was representing all women in her era. Women who in the nineteenth century, middle class marriage was a distinction between the “domestic” functions of the female and the “active” work of the male, which made women second-class citizens. The character’s projection of an imaginary woman was at first her shadow against the bars of the wallpaper, causing the conflict she experiences and eventually leading to the complete breakdown of the limitation of her identity and that of her projected shadow. With “barred windows for little children and rings and things in the walls” the room is much like her prison (Gilman 88). Even the pattern on the wallpaper which at first was completely random “at night in any kind of light, twilight, candlelight, lamplight, and worst of all moonlight, become bars” as if she is caged (Gilman 96). Both times here she refers to aspects of her room as bars. As she begins to feel imprisoned she sees her feelings onto the wallpaper, but the idea of the room being her prison goes because
Cited: 1. http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/yellowwallpaper/facts.html 2. http://www.novelguide.com/the-yellow-wallpaper/theme-analysis 3. Gywn, R.S Fiction. Seventh Edition. New York: Penguin Academics 2012. The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.