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10/14 The Yellow Wallpaper Tommy Bennett

The narrator in the Yellow Wallpaper is a woman afflicted with severe mental health issues whose problems are not being taken seriously or treated properly by her husband who is a doctor. Her individual story is representative of issues the entire female population faced in the late 1800s when the story was released. The entire story she obsesses over the ugly yellow wallpaper in her bedroom and believes that their is a woman trapped behind it. At the end of the story she rips all the wallpaper off the walls in an attempt to free the women. This trapped woman represents the restrictions placed on women in society and how they feel imprisoned by the rules put in place by the patriarchal society around them. This patriarchal society is represented by her husband who seemingly imprisons her in the house and refuses to allow her to do what she wants under the diagnosis of hysteria. Hysteria was the common diagnosis given to women of the time when they became dissatisfied by their living conditions as the all male medical world believed their reactions to the world around them were unjustified. The woman intends to trap the female figure with a rope, but seemingly fails to do so. She doesn’t fail because she was to slow to catch the crawling creature, but instead once the wall paper is removed she transforms into the newly freed female. The woman she believes to be behind the wallpaper and herself are one in the same. She was attempting to free herself from the boundaries of her oppression by ripping the wall paper down.

The wallpaper comes to represent the prison that women are trapped in by societies rules and that is why the woman obsesses over it. Once she sees the inequality of the world she is incapable of simply ignoring it as her husband wishes. This is similar to feminist throughout history. Once they recognized their subjugated position in the world, they were incapable of turning a blind eye, as the men in power hoped they would, and responded with a desperate need to pursue change. The women embodies this desperate need for change through her constant removal of the wallpaper with her bare hands. She becomes so frustrated by being unable to move the bed, to get wallpaper that she to high to reach, that she actually bites the corner of it which results in pain. This bite does a good job of representing how difficult and frustrating the fight for gender equality has allows been for women as they were forced to appeal to men, who benefited from their oppression, for equal rights.

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2 Comments

  1. Margot Roussel Margot Roussel

    I think you summarized the meaning behind the short story very well, The women trapped in the wallpaper was not actually the problem instead this served as a reflection of her own feeling of being trapped. Her relationship with the wallpaper from indifference to hating it also can show the progression of women fighting for rights, at first they mildly protested but in the end there were demanding the right to vote much like she was willing to injure herself to get the wallpaper off.

  2. Zariah Chiverton Zariah Chiverton

    I like how you saw the wallpaper as a symbol because that is something that I didn’t think about at all but is very accurate. I think another interesting aspect is that she is obsessing over this wallpaper and wants to change it because she can’t change anything else in her life. Everything she does is under the control of her husband which is definitely getting to her in ways that she doesn’t even notice. I think her obsession with the wallpaper is an outlet because she is unable to change anything else that she wants to.

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