Literary Analysis of the Yellow Wallpaper

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1579 Words
Date:  2022-01-04


The Yellow Wallpaper is among the most successful writings that reinforces all the intangible attitudes and feelings. The short story was written in the late 19th century concerning a woman with a mental problem or illness but cannot heal as a result of the husband's lack of faith and belief. It anchors the events in the late 19th century in a specific historical manner describing women and their perceived challenges in their abilities or rather a period where women faced oppression. The women were treated as second-rate individuals in the society during the time which also relates to the story "Jasmine" (Nadkarni 218-244). Except for the wallpaper madness in the conclusion of the short story, the writing would have been typical during the publication period and may relate to other stories by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (Gough 107). In Charlotte Perkins Gilman writing The Yellow Wallpaper, it delivers the thought process of the society as it uses the aspects and element of feminist criticism as the emotional position of the character mirrors the physical setup of the house. According to (Golden 120-122), it brings the various connections between the narrator and her physical position as it also dialogues through both the female and male perceptive.

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In an attempt to analyze "The Yellow Wallpaper" one can begin by delivering an examination on the aspect of dialogue through the male view or perspective. The narrator makes specific claims and statements concerning the males in the then period and setting of the story. For instance, according to (Siegel 44-57), the narrator delivers that, "if one's husband and a physician of high standings assure the relatives and friend that there is nothing wrong with an individual but a temporary nervous depression what is one to do?" Through the statement, it delivers the male perspective where a male is portrayed as superior to women and views women as children more than equals.

As the narrator resumes with the writing, there is great dominance on the male perspective by explaining that regardless of what she says to her husband concerning her illness, the husband ignores her attempts and illness since he believes that the wife is dramatic and she is overreacting even though there is nothing wrong with her. It is the husband's true belief that there is nothing wrong with his wife, and she is not ill which adds to her illness. He ignores the illness and later on makes her a conformist as he forces her to believe in his belief that there is nothing wrong with her evidenced in Oakley's article (30). It is true that the wife fell ill, however, her willingness to acquire treatment is taken away as she is treated like a small child who does not understand her feelings or body. For example, at some point, the husband held her in his arms and called her a "little goose" delivering the implication on how he treats his wife like a child and also speaks to her as such. As a result, the occurrence plays a major role in demonstrating the extent of women's oppression during this historic setting through dialogue from the male perspective which is also evident in Oakleys paper Beyond The Yellow Wallpaper delivering lessons on situations of women and health (Oakley 29-39).

Additionally, one can understand "The Yellow Wallpaper" more by the consideration of dialogue from the female perception. Since the paper is majorly attributed to the practices of women during the period of the literature, the narrator provides two different perceptions of "The Yellow Wallpaper" (Crewe 280). In the delivery of the perceptions, the first side revolves around women as conformists while the second examines the ability of the female to overcome the conventional ideas. As the narrator demonstrates the conformist side of the female gender, he delivers various claims. For instance, she says that she intended to be such a great help to John, such as give him comfort and real rest, but there she is as a burden already (Siegel 44-57). With the statement, it demonstrates the tendency of her feeling that she is a burden to her husband which happens as a result of conformity to her condition and to what her husband is making her believe or according to his beliefs.

With the wallpaper placed in their room, she dislikes it and keeps complaining about it even after the husband delivers that he will not change it and stops her from writing. In particular, it disturbs her with its formless and strange patterns which she describes as revolting. As a result, she blames herself for not being comfortable with the room the husband is providing to an extent she can find solutions, but the husband refuses to abide by her claims. The narrator resumes by saying that the husband is refusing to change the wallpaper since he does not want to give in to her neurotic worries burdening her. On the other hand, she finally can overcome her conformity towards the conclusion of the story. The claims are evident as she delivers that, I have at last got out in spite of you and Jane. I have pulled out most of the paper, so you cannot put me back (Gilman). In other words, the statement describes the feeling of the narrator feeling trapped within her family but is now free to act on herself which defines as a heroine after speaking for herself and being able to stand for herself (Ford 310).

Similarly, "The Yellow Wallpaper" is represented through the use of symbolism. The narrator uses symbolism to deliver the intended theme according to the plot of the story. For instance, the yellow wallpaper itself presents a clear sense of symbolism since it defines various aspects of the writing. With the statement such as, "The faint figure behind seemed to shake the pattern, just as if she wanted to get out" (The Yellow Wallpaper) it delivers an implication that in one way or the other, the wallpaper represents imprisonment. This sense of imprisonment is related to the wallpaper where the narrator seeks to get rid of the yellow paper but is not allowed despite giving her precise reason as to why she feels confined within the walls.

Moreover, as per the events of the fourth of July, the narrator is mostly alone and she now almost fond of the wallpaper since attempting to determine its pattern has become one of her major obligations. It pushes her obsession with the wallpaper. As she describes the wallpaper, At night in any light, in twilight, candlelight, lamplight, and worst of all by moonlight, it becomes bars! The outside pattern I mean and the woman behind it is as plain as can be" (Gilman), the sense of symbolism is clear. As the obsession with the wallpaper increases, the narrator is becoming the woman in the object trapped behind bars which enables her to see a lot of things (Thrailkill 525). For example, can understand how she does not control her life since she has little say in it and the feeling manifests itself in the wallpaper thus adding more to the use of symbolism in "The Yellow Wallpaper."


In conclusion, it is evident that the story is narrated in strict first-person narration, delivering that it includes the main character's journal and focuses on her feelings, thoughts, and perceptions (Siegel 44-57). She is in a state of anxiety in most parts of the literature with flashes of desperation and anger. Moreover, everything in the narration is filtered through the narrator's changing consciousness and also with the indication that the narrator runs mad at some point. While the story may deliver on different themes relating to the women in the then setting of the story, the use of motifs such as irony and symbols deliver a particular understanding of the script (MacPike 287).

Even though most of the information relates to dialogue from both the perspective of the males, the aspect of the females and through symbolism, the narrator attempts to use foreshadowing. The use of the word "creepy" foreshadows the narrator's desperation along with her actions of creeping. Nonetheless, The Yellow Wallpaper is a significant short story based on historical positions of women which demonstrates the struggles of women regarding being respected and heard in the context of the time when it was written (Lanser 415-441). Depending on the reader's perceptions, the story delivers different ideas and themes as it ends with the narrator asking a chain of questions concerning the current events and leaves the reader to figure out.

Works Cited

Crewe, Jonathan. "Queering The Yellow Wallpaper? Charlotte Perkins Gilman and the Politics of Form." Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature 14.2 (1995): 273-293.

Ford, Karen. "The Yellow Wallpaper" and Women's Discourse."" Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature 4.2 (1985): 309-314.

Golden, Catherine. "The captive imagination: a casebook on The yellow wallpaper." NWSA Journal 5.1 (1992): 120-122

Gough, Val. "Knight Denise D.(ed.), The Yellow Wallpaper and Selected Stories of Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Journal of American Studies 29.1 (1995): 107

Lanser, Susan S. "Feminist Criticism," The Yellow Wallpaper," and the Politics of Color in America." Feminist Studies 15.3 (1989): 415-441.

MacPike, Loralee. "Environment as Psychopathological Symbolism in" The Yellow Wallpaper." American Literary Realism, 1870-1910 (1975): 286-288.

Nadkarni, Asha. "Reproducing Feminism in" Jasmine" and “The Yellow Wallpaper." Feminist Studies 38.1 (2012): 218-244.

Oakley, Ann. "Beyond the yellow wallpaper." Reproductive Health Matters 5.10 (1997): 29-39.

Siegel, Jennifer Semple. "Charlotte Perkins (Stetson) Gilman's" The Yellow Wallpaper": Fiction" with a Purpose" and the Need to Know the Real Story." CEA Critic 59.3 (1997): 44-57.

Thrailkill, Jane F. "Doctoring" The Yellow Wallpaper." ELH 69.2 (2002): 525-566.

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Literary Analysis of the Yellow Wallpaper. (2022, Jan 04). Retrieved from

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