University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
“The Yellow Wallpaper” Essay
“The Yellow Wallpaper” is a chilling tale of a woman forced to insanity, yet her mental state is a double edged sword. What brings her down is, in the end, her savior. The doctors in the narrator’s life give her the worst advice possible for the outcome they desire. She is forced to do nothing, and instead of pulling her back to normality, the dreariness pushes her further and further away. Left with nothing to occupy her mind, her mind occupies itself.
In the beginning of the story, the woman is quite lucid in the usual sense. Due to a lack of understanding of depression, she is forced to hide the things she loves. She focuses her attention on all she has left, her mental state. However, since she is told that there is nothing wrong she does not analyze it directly, but instead watches her life play out in the metaphor created by the horrid yellow wallpaper. As the story progresses, you watch as the lady loses her touch with reality, focusing more and more on the yellow wallpaper. She pays attention every inch of it, noticing the ever watching eyes and the twists that keep what she believes to be a creeping woman trapped behind. She stops complaining of boredom, and instead analyses the paper most intently. I believe when the narrator begins to see the creeping, humiliated woman outside is the beginning of her liberation. It shows that the woman is free, at least part of the time. This is also around the time when the narrator notices the streak running around the room. While this could of been there before, one would think she would of noticed it previously. This indicates she created it herself, in her moments of freedom. During this part of the story she was only liberated part of the time though, as John was still there to watch her at night. The creeping woman she sees also hides herself when someone is coming. As the moon peeks through the windows, the narrator watches the woman in the wallpaper. She is no longer creeping and hiding, as the narrator is forced to also do by day, but shaking the “bars” of her prison, meanwhile the narrator is wishing John would take another room so that she could escape him. By the end of the story, she has completely forgotten about her wishes to have some kind of entertainment. As her husband is gone and she is able to trick Jennie into leaving her alone, the narrator manages to free the woman behind the wallpaper from it’s entangling grasp. Thus, she also frees herself from the controlling grasp of her husband. She is free to do as she pleases, which at the moment is creep around the room in the most unusual fashion. However, she seems to really be enjoying herself. Not only that, but she doesn’t even want to leave her room. When John returns, he sees that he is no longer in control what so ever, and faints. While he is kind of cumbersome and in the way, as the narrator now has to crawl over him to complete her circuit, this shows how completely she has triumphed. Society may find her actions disconcerting, but it is the very same society that pushed her away into isolation in the first place. Crawling over her husband’s inert body merely emphasizes the point that she has finally completely overcome him. She finally get’s her way.