The Importance of the Wallpaper in The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

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The Importance of the Wallpaper in The Yellow Wallpaper

"The Yellow Wallpaper" takes a close look at one woman's mental deterioration. The narrator is emotionally isolated from her husband. Due to the lack of interaction with other people the woman befriends the reader by secretively communicating her story in a diary format. Her attitude towards the wallpaper is openly hostile at the beginning, but ends with an intimate and liberating connection. During the gradual change in the relationship between the narrator and the wallpaper, the yellow paper becomes a mirror, reflecting the process the woman is going through in her room.

When the narrator first sees the paper she is repulsed by the shade and the pattern. It is something she hates and yet she cannot ignore it. The "repellent" and "repulsive" paper soon becomes the topic of her journal entries. The first personification of the wallpaper is when she notices where the pattern "lolls like a broken neck and two bulbous eyes stare at you upside down"..."I never saw so much expression in an inanimate thing before". This indicates that, just as John and Jennie watch her, the paper appears to be watching her too. She speaks of the paper as another presence in the room. The reader can see that the paper is starting to become more fascinating to her than the outside world when her attention to the view of the countryside abruptly switches back to the wallpaper. As she becomes more isolated in the room her thoughts are filled with the design of the paper almost as if she is studying it. "I know a little of the principle of design, and I know this thing was not arranged on any laws of radiation, or alternation, or repetition, or symmetry, or anything else that I ev...

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Kennedy and Dana Gioia. 6th ed. New York: Harper Collins, 1995. 424-36.

Hume, Beverly A. “Gilman’s Interminable Grotesque’: The Narrator of ‘The Yellow Wallpaper.’” Studies in Short Fiction 28.4 (1991):477-84.

Johnson, Greg. “Gilman’s Gothic Allegory: Rage and Redemption in ‘The Yellow Wallpaper.’” Studies in Short Fiction 26.4 (1989):521-30.

King, Jeannette and Pam Morris. “On Not Reading between the Lines: Models of Reading in ‘The Yellow Wallpaper.’” Studies in Short Fiction 26.1 (1989): 23-32.

Owens, E. Suzanne. “The Ghostly Double behind the Wallpaper in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s ‘The Yellow Wallpaper.’”

Haunting the House of Fiction. Ed. Lynette Carpenter and Wendy K. Kolmar. Knoxville: U of Tennessee P, 1991 64-79.

Scharnhorst, Gary. “‘The Yellow Wallpaper.’” Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Boston: Twayne, 1985. 15-20.
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