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In “The Yellow Wallpaper,” Gilman expresses women’s struggle in society, and how being cut off from creative processes can eventually lead to insanity.
“It is dull enough to confuse the eye in following, pronounced enough to constantly irritate and provoke study, and when you follow the lame uncertain curves for a little distance they suddenly commit suicide – plunge off at outrageous angles, destroy themselves in unheard of contradictions. The color is repellant, almost revolting; a smoldering unclean yellow, strangely faded by the slow turning sunlight. It is a dull yet lurid orange in some places, a sickly sulphur tint in others. No wonder the children hated it! I should hate it myself if I had to live in this room long. There comes John, and I must put this away, -- he hates to have me write a word” (480).
This quote’s meaning is prevalent throughout the story and the rest of the themes. The narrator seems to not like the paper, but is helpless to do anything about it. Perkins uses this story to make statements about feminism and individuality. She does this by taking the reader down the steps of one woman’s mental state, and how her mental state becomes characterized by something she is constantly made to look at. Gilman seeks to evoke messages of expression by recording the progression of the woman’s mental “illness” through the state of the wallpaper. The main character, also known as the Protagonist, narrates her own life, but is never named. The reader experiences the inner thoughts of a woman’s mind, yet she remains anonymous, a reflection of her status in society.
The narrator expresses her need and love of thriving off of her own imagination, while John attempts to replace it with his rational thinking by forcing he...

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...society is limited. Gilman seems to express that the female condition can be fragile. This story is only about the madness of one woman, yet it seems to make a general statement about the condition of all females. The mental illness eventually consumes the narrator as her creativity gets taken away. There are even some clues as to the narrator foreshadowing her own illness. The wallpaper symbolizes this in many ways. One of the way it does this is through the feeling of the narrator feeling “trapped.” After feeling trapped for so long she starts to identify herself with the figure behind the wallpaper. This is a good symbol to present women’s confinement and emotional condition of the time era that Gilman lived in. The story could be Gilman’s way of expressing herself because her own creativity was limited to such a point where she could not find a creative outlet.
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