Symbolism Of "The Yellow Wallpaper

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade November 2001

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Upon a normal and very literal reading of Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper", the main character, a woman, appears to be a mad and raving lunatic. Throughout the story she rants and raves about the strange yellow wallpaper in the colonial mansion that she is forced to stay in for a short period of time while she is recovering from depression. She does not stop at talking about how strange she finds the wallpaper in the mansion, but instead, she is eventually driven to tearing it down because she thinks that there is a woman figure confined behind it.

The narration of this story is a first person omniscient, allowing the reader to see the many thoughts that course through the woman's mind, which works very complexly at times, especially at the end of the story where the woman finally decides to peel the wallpaper completely from the wall.

This viewpoint gives the reader a very good idea of what the woman's exact feelings are at different times, depending on the time of day and the people that she is in contact with. The name of the woman is never given, only the name of her husband and Jennie, who is the woman who helps take care of her and her child while she is ill.

"The Yellow Wallpaper" is a true testament to the life of Charlotte Perkins Gilman. It relates to the same illness that Gilman experienced. Eventually she discovered that the sickness was purely a result of the oppression that she felt throughout her life. This oppression was a result of her being a woman in the Victorian time period. The woman who is diagnosed as ill by her husband and many other physicians is not sick at all, but...