The Yellow Wallpaper BY Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Essay by dkgrinerUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, February 2005

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This short story is not necessarily about a crazy woman, at least not at first, but about a woman longing for liberty. This story is a narrative about the feelings, and depressions arising from the tensions of societal norms on an 18th century woman. The wallpaper design is an expression of the oppressions in her life. The figure in the wallpaper is the woman that must be liberated.

The woman in the story is supposedly sick, and she is sick in a certain way. She is sick of not having a life. She is sick of her husband John who says he loves her, yet treats her like a child and smothers her with his own will. She is also sick of her brother, who like her husband John, is a physician of means. Both doubt the true seriousness of her condition, and she dare not express herself, for in doing so she would be considered an object of laughter and an embarrassment.

Everything is foisted upon her though she would chose a different course if she could. It is her duty and lot in life to stay in her place. She cannot even write, which seems to be the true passion of her life. This makes her heartsick, even though at times she complains of the headache writing brings. Instead she is left to live as expected, which I believe is the meaning of the repulsive wallpaper. She longs for interaction, but is told by her husband not to even think about such things. She must keep her conversation to domestic issues like her house. Hers is a life of special directions and others thinking for her. This causes her crazy notions she starts to present.

Her husband is gone often, and she is confined to a dreadfully decorated...