“The Yellow Wallpaper”
“The Yellow Wallpaper”, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, is a story about a young woman whose husband takes her to a country home for the summer in order for her to get some rest and fresh air to cure her of her nervousness, but she has an obsession with the wallpaper and ends up going completely mad. The narrator is a mother of an infant and wife of a physician, John, who decides that her nervous condition can be cured with plenty of rest, tonics, and sunshine and fresh air. She believes her condition would improve with “congenial work, with excitement and change” (Gilman 221). Being in the same room day after day, she begins to try and make sense of the pattern in and behind the wallpaper, seeing a creeping woman. The narrator’s fixation with the old yellow wallpaper drives her insane. Gilman implies that the discouragement of mental development can have negative effects on one’s psyche. The narrator is treated like a small child ...view middle of the document...
The agonizing days and nights trying to decipher the wallpaper causes the narrator to break from reality. On the last night in the room she is determined to catch the woman in the wallpaper and astonish John when he comes home. She becomes the creeping woman.
“The Yellow Wallpaper” is told in first person limited omniscient as the narrator expresses her thoughts in her journal. When the narrator arrives at their summer mansion, her main focus is on the ghastly yellow wallpaper in the room, her husband has chosen to be their bedroom. She discusses her nervous condition but goes into great detail about the wallpaper. “I don’t like our room a bit. I wanted the one downstairs that opened to the piazza …the color [of the wallpaper] is repellent, almost revolting” (Gilman 222). The narrator should be excited about her new bedroom, but the walls have the worst paper she has ever seen. She has come here to improve her health, but the color of her room is a sickly yellow. “At first he meant to repaper the room, but afterward he said that I was letting it get the better of me…he took me in his arms and called me a blessed little goose” (Gilman 222-223). The narrator tries her best to be a proper wife to her husband and not get angry with him. He does not take her seriously and belittles her wants and needs. The narrator writes down the description of the obnoxious pattern knowing that “John would think it absurd. But I must say what I feel and think in some way – it is such a relief!” (Gilman 224). The narrator reveals that she has imagination and creative writing skills. She is able to communicate through her diary her thoughts and ideas that her husband is not willing to hear.
This point of view makes the story very personal. It brings the reader into the narrator’s way of thinking. She has no creative outlet and obsesses on wallpaper that represents her need to escape the reality she lives in. She escapes from the wallpaper. If the reader knew what John was thinking, the focus would no longer be on the narrator. The intimacy of the first person view takes the reader on a roller coaster ride to insanity and evokes sympathy for the narrator. Knowing John’s thought would lessen that affect. Gilman wanted for people to feel the narrator’s plight.