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The Yellow Wallpaper Analysis Essay

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Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story, “The Yellow Wall-Paper”, is a first-person narrative written in the style of a journal. It takes place during the nineteenth century and depicts the narrator’s time in a temporary home her husband has taken her to in hopes of providing a place to rest and recover from her “nervous depression”. Throughout the story, the narrator’s “nervous condition” worsens. She begins to obsess over the yellow wallpaper in her room to the point of insanity. She imagines a woman trapped within the patterns of the paper and spends her time watching and trying to free her. Gilman uses various literary elements throughout this piece, such as irony and symbolism, to portray it’s central themes of restrictive social norms…show more content…
The windows are barred, symbolizing the restrictive nature of the narrator’s mental condition. She is imprisoned within her mind. Her room was once a nursery, symbolizing that she is helpless and dependent on her husband’s care, similar to how a parent is reliant on the care of it’s parents, “… for the windows are barred for little children,” (Gilman 2). The narrator is not only trapped by her own mind and mental condition, but her husband’s wishes and expectations as well. The most significant symbol within the story is the yellow wallpaper. Initially, the narrator only views the wallpaper as something unpleasant, but over time she becomes fascinated with it’s formless pattern and tries to figure out how it’s organized. She discovers a sub-pattern within in it in which she distinguishes as a barred change with the heads of women that have attempted to escape the wallpaper like the woman she has been “seeing” moving within the wallpaper, “And she is all the time trying to climb through. But nobody could climb through that pattern - it strangles so; I think that is why it has so many heads” (Gilman 8). The yellow wallpaper is symbolic of a women’s place in society within the nineteenth century. It was not commonplace, or deemed acceptable, for women to be financially independent and/or engage in intellectual activity. The wallpaper is symbolic of those economic, intellectual, and social restrictions women were held to, as well as the domestic lives they were expected to lead. The narrator is so restricted by these social norms that her proper name is never given within the story, her only identity is “John’s wife”. At the climax of the story, the narrator identifies completely with the woman in the wallpaper and believes that by tearing the wallpaper, both she and the woman would be freed of their domestic prisons, “…there are so many of those
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