"The Yellow Wallpaper"Charolette Perkins Gilman.

Essay by OscarLouiseUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, January 2004

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Who is Jane?

Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper" is a story set in the late 1800's about a woman and her "nervous troubles." The story begins with a young woman and her husband going to the country for the summer. The summer retreat is supposed to allow the woman to recover from her provisional depression of an unknown cause, however her condition seems to be deteriorating instead. Throughout the story the first person narrator, which is the alleged psychotic woman, expresses her feelings about the yellow wallpaper in her room. She sees things in the wallpaper, such as, "pointless patterns" and a "creeping woman." The ending of the story is somewhat ambiguous. In the final passage the narrator makes a rather bizarre statement, "I've got out (of the wallpaper) at last...in spite of you and Jane. And I've pulled off most of the paper, so you can't put me back!" The question is: who is Jane?

First of all, there are only three characters that have a role in the story.

John, the narrator's husband, is a physician who treats his wife as a child and will not allow her to leave the house. Jennie is the maid who obeys the doctor's orders very well. She does not let the depressed woman write or do anything that might worsen her condition. The first person narrator is obviously the main character, however, her name is never revealed throughout the story. Or is it? One might believe "Jane" could possibly be the name of the narrator. At the end of the story it might seem as though the narrator has become the woman that she thought was behind the wallpaper. For example, in the final passages of the story the narrator seems to be talking when she...