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The Yellow Wallpaper
The narrator is imaginative and a natural storyteller because of the introduction of the
book. “And why have stood so long untenanted? is a quote that demonstrates the imaginative
character of the narrator. “It is very seldom that mere ordinary people like John and myself
secure ancestral halls for the summer” shows that the narrator is a natural storyteller (Gilman, 1).
John is practical because he restricts her behavior claiming to be part of the treatment
procedure. The practical character of John is evident when he refers to facts and figures to fancy.
Secondly, John loves as evident by his concern on the treatment procedure of the wife. John
believes that a husband must lovingly support the wife in all aspects of life (Gilman, 2).
John’s diagnosis of the narrator’s illness is mental illness described as “temporary nervous
depression.” The treatment offered by John to the narrator is discouraging her from speaking and
thinking about the disease and provides the yellow paper cure (Gilman, 4).
The narrator thinks that the cure offered to her does not help in treating the illness but its
based on the power of a man. The narrator writes that she does not feel comfortable in the room
with the yellow wallpaper (Gilman, 52).
The narrator feels that better treatment to her condition could be making her live with
other people and removing the yellow paper which is caused agitation. The treatment offered by
husband worsens the illness to insanity according to the narrator and Vergona (Gilman, 56).
The husband’s prescribed treatment does not seem to work because the narrator does not
recover from the illness; instead, the mental condition worsens. According to Vergona analysis,
the narrator becomes insane because of the loneliness and the irritating yellow wallpaper.
The narrator’s description of the room makes one feel that the room does not offer the
best healing space. The room is likely to be excluded and not crucial to the family which makes
one doubt the loving aspect of John. According to the description, the room does not meet the
conditions of a room meant for mental therapy.
The health condition of the narrator deteriorates as the story progresses because the
husband no longer seems to care about her. The narrator becomes frustrated and ends up tearing
down the wallpaper because she feels imprisoned. “She sees figures in the wallpaper and begins
to think about all of the other women who are imprisoned just as she is” is a direct quote by
Vergona to show the deteriorating condition of the narrator.
The bedposts and the smooches are created by the narrator while going around the room
trying to discover herself. The smooches on the wall according to narrator resemble nursery
school artworks. The shoulders of the narrator fit on the smooches and her clothes seem to have
yellow paints (Gilman, 56).
The wallpaper symbolizes a screen that the narrator projects their own life and the
process of discovery. The colors on the wallpaper represent the problems that happen in the life
of the narrator in the process of understanding their potential as a woman. “She had projected her
sense of self outwards, and finally takes it back inwards, so to speak” is a quote from the book to
describe the representation of the wallpaper.
The woman in the wallpaper symbolizes the narrator’s sanity which she struggles to get
for many days. The symbolism is evident when the narrator tears the paper to get the woman
which has been her lifetime confinement.
The narrator sympathizes with the woman on the wallpaper because she is a
representation of her repression and submission to seduction. The woman tries to creep into the
pattern and the more she stares, the worse her condition becomes. The struggle the woman on the
wallpaper resembles the narrator’s current situation
The motivation behind the narrator’s decision to reap off the wallpaper from the wall is
the hope to find freedom from seduction. The narrator believes that the wallpaper is a form of
imprisonment that affects her value as a woman and feels that tearing the paper will open ways
to her freedom. The woman of the paper motivates her beyond imagination to diagnose her
illness and get the right treatment (Gilman, 65).
The unnamed female character, the narrator, is a protagonist because of her outstanding
role that she plays throughout the story. Most themes are developed within her context as the
main character and represent the advocate of the story. The imaginative character of the
unnamed female narrator assumed to be Jane makes her the protagonist in the story.
The narrator’s husband John is the antagonist because he does not give the wife freedom
to expression because of her gender. John does not listen to narrators complain about the wrong
diagnosis. The protagonist struggles against imprisonment by the ale gender represented by John
in the story. The struggle is imaginative because of the use of symbols to represent and explain
her situation (Gilman, 68).
The protagonist has made progress in overcoming the struggle at the end of the story. The
protagonist tears the wallpaper which brings her discomfort and steps on the antagonist as a sign
of conquering. The exaggerated struggle of the narrator at the end of the story to tear the
wallpaper and bedposts represents the breakdown of prison bars to her freedom.
The story reveals that their visual capacity guides conscious plays a significant role in
defining a person and naturally humans. The story shows that one requires stability in mind to
overcome natural barriers (Gilman, 72).
The role of men and women in society, especially in marriage, play a significant role in
achieving a well-lived life. The story focuses on outlining some challenges faced by women in
the struggle to make success in the nineteenth century.
Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. The yellow wallpaper and other writings. Modern Library Classics,
LITERARY GLOSSARY 2.2
Character: A person, animal, or anthropomorphic (human-like) thing who performs the
actions of the story.
Methods of Characterization: Authors use six basic methods to characterize. (Be careful
not to equate the narrator with the author. Always think of the speaker/narrator in a text as a
fictional character created by the author who does not necessarily share the same history or
traits as the author.)
The thoughts of that character (e.g., wife in Millay’s poem)
The words of that character (e.g. wife in Millay’s poem)
The acts of that character (e.g., wife in Millay’s poem)
The thoughts of other characters about that character (e.g., wife in Millay’s poem)
The words of other characters about that character (e.g., wife in Millay’s poem)
The words of the narrator about that character (e.g., wife in Millay’s poem)
Setting: Typically, setting focuses on the time or place in which the actions of the plot occur.
Setting may also refer to an intellectual context of some kind, such as a theological setting, a
political setting, or some other kind of cultural setting.
Symbol: A visible object or action that functions on a literal level within the text, but which also
suggests some further meaning in addition to itself. One of the most common examples is the
heart. As a symbol, the heart is a literal physical object (a muscle that pumps blood), but it also
very often has the additional symbolic meaning of “love.”
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