The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

The Yellow Wallpaper is a short story written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman – an outstanding American writer and a huge supporter of woman’s rights. The story is told from the first person in the form of a diary of a young lady, diagnosed with a mental disease and placed in a room with yellow wallpaper. The story was written by Gilman after she had postpartum psychosis, thus, it is considered to be semiautobiographical. The protagonist of the story symbolizes the struggle faced by women, who suffered discrimination and had no freedom of thought.

The Yellow Wallpaper Summary

The action takes place in a house rented by a family for several months. The young lady believes that she has a serious illness, but her husband John and her brother state the opposite. This situation immediately refers to the state of women in the eighteenth century. Their voice is suppressed by the males, who run the society. Nobody wants to hear their thoughts or to listen to their ideas. The same thing is depicted in the short story when the main heroine talks about her husband forbidding her to write and imagine different things: “he hates to have me write a word” (Gilman), “I know John would think it absurd. But I must say what I feel and think in some way – it is such a relief!” (Gilman) John takes control over his wife and her life, makes her live in a room with bars on the windows and with ugly yellow wallpaper. Furthermore, yellow is a color of mental illness. As a whole, the yellow wallpaper symbolizes the mental prison of a young lady.

When Was The Yellow Wallpaper Written

The woman that the protagonist sees behind the bars on the pattern of the wallpaper is heroine herself. She is so tired to be locked down and tries to release that woman that is behind the pattern, thus, trying to gain her own freedom.  The fact that the protagonist crept over her lying fainted husband can be interpreted as a victory over the male’s reign. The women still creep on the floor, but soon they will get on their feet.

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