The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is one of the best examples of Gothic literature. Being considered as the scary writing at the times when the story was written, however, some time passed and the story has been interpreted from different perspectives involving various angles of consideration. A close reading of the story helps understand that the central idea is a woman and her place in a family. There are a lot of details which show that the whole situation, the society and a husband himself as the representation of the men’s power to make a wife subordinate and passive.
Even though some people may notice the feminist notes in the statement, the objective and precise consideration of the story helps understand that the author wanted to show the dependant position of a woman in the family and in the society in contrast to the dominant position of the husband. Moreover, showing the hierarchical situation in the family, the author stresses the suffering and the desire to get rid of the responsibilities which make a woman imprisoned.
At the very beginning of the story the author presents the main idea of the discussion, the author points to the problem which is the result of men’s domination in the family. The narrator, a woman, suffers from postpartum psychosis, but neither a husband nor a doctor notices this. To the point, the author never calls the problem a postpartum psychosis, but the situation and other particular aspects point to this problem.
At the very beginning of the story, the narrator stresses the ideas and the issues which are going to discuss further pointing at the main problem, “If a physician of high standing, and one’s own husband, assures friends and relatives that there is really nothing the matter with one but temporary nervous depression — a slight hysterical tendency — what is one to do?… So I take phosphates or phosphites — whichever it is, and tonics, and journeys, and air, and exercise, and am absolutely forbidden to “work” until I am well again.
Personally, I disagree with their ideas” (Gilman 6). This part of the discussion stresses the inability of a woman to do what she feels is going to be better for her. One more problem a woman experiences apart from the absence of the right to choose what she exactly wants is the absence of a personal point of view. It seems that her husband sits in the narrator’s head and whispers her the decisions she is to make, “I sometimes fancy that in my condition if I had less opposition and more society and stimulus—but John says the very worst thing I can do is think about my condition, and I confess it always makes me feel bad. So I will let it alone and talk about the house” (Gilman 7).
Having arrived at the place chosen for the narrator, she appears in the room with yellow wallpapers. These wallpapers seem dirty for her, then she looks at them for a long period of time and she understands that there is a woman there, the one which was kept in the room despite her will. She wants to release that woman but she is not sure how to make it. The narrator constantly repeats that a woman is always “stooping” and “creeping”. Finally, the narrator begins to tear off the wallpaper having a desire to help a woman to release from imprisonment.
The final scene when almost all the wallpapers appear at the floor the narrator understand that the woman she saw in the wallpapers is she, imprisoned and unable to do anything she wanted “I don’t like to look out of the windows even—there are so many of those creeping women, and they creep so fast. I wonder if they all come out of that wall-paper as I did?” (Gilman 31). A woman has managed to understand what she felt, she managed to make sure that she will get rid of the pressure. The possibility to understand what was the reason for her depression is one of the most important steps in the life of the narrator.
Therefore, the main idea of the story is to show that even though a woman is imprisoned at home, even though she is to be a good wife and mother and perform all the home tasks she remains a person who is able to release from the pressure, to get rid of the men’s domination and do everything as she wants. The final phrase in the story points at the further development of the situation, it as if states that the husband is not going to be the head of the family, “Now, why that man have fainted? But he did, and right across my path by the wall so that I had to creep over him every time” (Gilman 34). A woman seems to be assured about the way how she is going to behave in the future.
Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Stories. New York: Filiquarian Publishing, LLC., 2007. Print.