Symbolism in “The Yellow Wallpaper”

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The color yellow has many different meanings. It can bring hope and happiness but it can also bring cowardice and deceit. The shade of yellow tells the whole story. Bright, beautiful shades usually denote cheerfulness or joy but it can also have a hint of danger. Dull, dingy shades usually denote caution, decay, sickness, and jealousy. The dull and dingy yellow sets the scene for this dramatic story. The story “The Yellow Wallpaper,” written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, has many symbolic undertones throughout the story but none as great as the yellow wallpaper being a symbol for the main character’s sanity as well as her entrapment both physically and mentally. John physically traps her in this room by his actions of making her feel like a small insignificant child: “It is as airy and comfortable a room as anyone need wish, and, of course, I would not be so silly as to make him uncomfortable just for a whim” (514). He tricks her into believing that this is the best room for her to get well in. The yellow wallpaper traps her in as well. The paper blocks her into the room where she feels like she cannot and will not get better unless she can get out and get back to the real world. However, she can’t get out because her eyes cannot leave the pattern in the wallpaper therefore she can’t get any rest. Her eyes follow the pattern day to day and she can never find the end result and her mind wont let her leave the paper until she has scrutinized the entire thing. Her mind begins to picture the woman that is trapped and she cannot let that woman be trapped as she is. As her mental state fades, and the woman appears behind the bars she narrator feels as if they are trapped together. This is a symbol of her being trapped in a cage; the room... ... middle of paper ... ...he triumphs over him and his oppression anyway: “‘I've got out at last,’ said I, ‘in spite of you and Jane. And I've pulled off most of the paper, so you can't put me back!’ Now why should that man have fainted? But he did, and right across my path by the wall, so that I had to creep over him every time!” (524). This action of her “creeping” over him shows that even though she had been oppressed mentally and physically by John she triumphs over him in the end. Everyone has their boundaries of sanity and most prefer to stay inbounds, but sometimes there are those that just get pushed a little too far and creep over the edge. Works Cited Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. “The Yellow Wallpaper.” The Norton Introduction to Literature: Shorter Ninth Edition. Eds. Alison Booth, J. Paul Hunter, and Kelly J. Mays. New York City: W.W. Norton & Company, 2006. 513-524. Print.
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