The Yellow Wallpaper, By Charlotte Perkins Gilman

The Yellow Wallpaper, By Charlotte Perkins Gilman

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Can a story contain more than one antagonist? In “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman there is an overwhelming amount of conflict the unnamed narrator must endure. The protagonist of “The Yellow Wallpaper” is the narrator who is suffering from depression and is taken to a house for the summer to rest. In “The Yellow Wallpaper”, the wallpaper is the antagonist because it causes the narrator to have a breakdown at the end of the short story; John, the narrator’s husband, cannot be the antagonist because he is doing what he believes is best for her, and the narrator cannot be the antagonist because she wants to improve her mental state.
The wallpaper in “The Yellow Wallpaper” is the antagonist because it causes her mental illness to worsen by the overall negativity that the narrator associates with the wallpaper. The wallpaper feeds into the narrator’s imagination when she states, “This paper looks to me as if it knew what a vicious influence it had!” (Gilman 649). Throughout the narrator’s stay in this house, she starts to personify the wallpaper stating that it has a vicious influence on her. The narrator then begins to identify with the woman in the wallpaper,” I pulled and she shook, I shook and she pulled, and before morning we had peeled off yards of that paper” (654). As the narrator stays longer in the house, she begins to become more infatuated with the wallpaper, “I didn 't realize for a long time what the thing was that showed behind, that dim sub-pattern, but now I am quite sure it is a woman” (653). During this part of the narrator 's stay, she begins to make shapes out of the wallpaper’s pattern. At this point she has identified herself with the woman because the woman she is seeing is her shadow; althou...


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...ling with the wallpaper she is still continuing to try and get better for John and her newborn baby.
In “The Yellow Wallpaper” the narrator suffers from depression and is being treated in a summer house by her husband John. John decides to treat his wife, the narrator with “rest cure” which was thought to cure women with mental illness. There are several possible antagonists presented; however, the yellow wallpaper in the room is the antagonist, for it drives her to a breakdown and eventually tearing down the wallpaper. John is not the antagonist in this short story because the way he is trying to cure her was thought to be the most effective treatment. While the treatment may be cruel to some it was the best solution they had come up with yet. In addition, the narrator could not be the antagonist either because she is very driven to get better as soon as possible.

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