The Yellow Wallpaper is a book narrated first-person point of view (Perkins, 2010). It is about a young woman who is mentally disturbed and hence depicts a true-life story of the writers’ experience. She is strongly against the domination of men over their wives. They do not see them as human beings, but as animals who are given no respect, peace of mind, rights, and freedom to express themselves in the public. The fictional Charlotta who is the protagonist in the story is revealed as John’s wife.
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John is seen in the story as a loving and caring husband and a father, who wants to make his wife and child’s life comfortable and stress-free. This is shown when he tries his level best to purchase a good house in one of the best estates, but not the yellow wallpaper in her bedroom. Jenne, John’s sister, and the narrator’s sister-in-law, also demonstrates her sense of love and caring when she comes in and helps them in areas like taking care of the newly born baby, the house chores and lastly acts as her personal nurse by taking care of her through her recovery period. This is revealed when the narrator says, “she is a perfect and enthusiastic housekeeper…”
The first theme to be portrayed is Johns’ control over his wife. This is seen when he prohibits her from writing anything when she feels that it is helpful on her road to recovery. He claims that writing will sack her strength off for nothing and increase her level of sickness. Control is also shown when she hides her writing from the husband whenever she feels her presence around the house. According to Roberts (1998), it reveals how women had to hide their work from their husbands because they would strongly oppose them, claiming that they are the ones to give orders and make decisions in the house which shows them as a weak instrument in the society. Control is also reflected when the narrator is forced to stay in a room that she is not interested in. She says, “I don’t like our room…” She wants to change her room and go downstairs but the husband would not allow her because he thinks that he knows the best for her. The
Depression is a stage that most women go through after they have given birth. According to Hans (1996), depression is caused by a gradual change of hormones in the body. The signs of post-delivery depression include feeling hopeless, worthless, and weak. The narrator says, “…nervous trouble …dreadfully depressing.” She feels depressed, after having delivered a baby boy. John’s sister is seen as the nanny since she is the one taking care of the newly born child through her entire process of recovery.
The wallpaper as a title describes the level of oppression women are going through in society. This is shown when the narrator tries to grab the wallpaper so that she can tear it into pieces and rescue the woman who is behind it. Oppression can also go hand in hand with gender bias hence the narrator has to work tirelessly in order to free herself from the cultural aspect of a woman being subject or a servant to her husband.
The narrator uses the theme of freedom as a way of showing that finally all the problems she has been experiencing in her life. This is seen when she says, “I’ve got out at last in spite of you and Janne…” According to Goodman (1996), the narrator tears the wallpaper from the wall without being afraid of her husband. She is not bothered by what her husband talks of her because her mission has started and it is not going to stop no matter what he says to her. The title of the story and the narrator’s husband shows some qualities that resemble one another. This is drawn from the beginning of the story when it is found that they irritate her so much but in the end, he is no longer superior to he used to be and the wallpaper no longer gives her any hard times
Lastly, the narrator reflects on the house that was bought during their summer vacation at their rural home. It shows some kind of loneliness when described as being a nursery school with barred windows. She is also lonely because, during the day, she seats alone in her room staring at the wallpaper, which irritates her increasing her days of getting well. She is also not able to get in touch with her newborn baby because of her mental status which according to her husband, she was not supposed to do any kind of work that would sound so strain to her and act as an obstacle to her health recovery (Gilman, 1989).
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As the pages come to a close, the narrator concludes that women who try to break the chains of marriage, either by divorce or by remaining single tend to lose their position in society. They are seen as an outcast and are excommunicated from society or be isolated from family and other people from any form of interaction. She no longer wants to see the wallpaper and due to this, she tears it into pieces showing the end of oppression after many years of mockery though there are those who are still in this kind of bondage life that the narrator went through before she opened her eyes and sow the reality of what life is and how it should be lived.
Gilman, P. C. (1989). The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Writing. Hartford: Bantam Books.
Goodman, L. (1996). Literature and Gender. New York: Open University press.
Hans, P.G. (1996). Discovering Literature: A story, poems, and plays. New York: Prentice Hall.
Perkins, C.G, (2010). The Yellow Wallpaper. New York: Raider Publishing Int.
Roberts, E. V. (1998). Literature. New York: Pearson Education.