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Yellow Walpaper

The role that gender plays in this short story is very evident.  It seems that the narrator has been put into some kind of mental institution and struggles to find her identity, while explaining how much she hates her room.  It seems that after having her child the narrator was admitted to an institution of some kind because of depression.  While, John her husband says that she is fine, and that she will be back to normal soon, the narrator obviously is not okay.  The idea that a woman is dependent on a man is evident, “John is a physician, and perhaps—(I would not say it to a living soul, of course, but this is dead paper and a great relief to my mind)—perhaps that is one reason I do not get well faster.  You see, he does not believe I am sick!”  The idea of male superiority shows in John’s actions, because instead of listening to the narrator’s problems, he doesn’t believe her.  Meanwhile, the narrator has given up trying to convince people otherwise, “And what can one do?  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?”

Towards the end of the story though the narrator begins to become more defiant of these gender stereotypes.  She doesn’t always listen to what John says becoming more and more defiant as the story continues.  Until the very end of the story when she finally breaks out of her shell.  She was able to pull off all of the wallpaper that made her so unhappy.  While admiring the wall she writes, “I quite enjoy the room, now it is bare again.”  This signifies how she has broken out of the shell that she was in, and is now able to defy John and become her own person.  This continues until she locks everyone out of the room and is by herself contemplating how to escape.  Finally, she says, “I’ve got out at last,” said I, “in spite of you and Jane! And I’ve pulled off most of the paper, so you can’t put me back!”  This is the final stage in her evolution, because the narrator has fully escaped the grips that John has kept her in, and she now feels free for the first time.


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  1. Julia Borger Julia Borger

    I also found the ending of the short story to be very liberating and inspiring. It is crazy to me that something of this scale was published back in 1892, but can still be relatable today, both in ideas of gender stereotypes and mental health awareness. Although we have progressed significantly since then, there still remain many things that need to be fixed in our system. I wonder how long it will take for these ideas to seem so ancient that they no longer feel relevant in the present day.

  2. Charley Blount Charley Blount

    Her husband’s dismissiveness of her health concerns demonstrates the progress we have made in recent decades regarding mental health. While I see the gendered family dynamic at play, I think society’s antiquated understanding of mental health is at play more than sexism with respect to her health.

  3. Morgan Crocker Morgan Crocker

    I agree that in this short story gender plays a dominant role, because of how the narrator seems dependent on her husband while her mental state is being tested. I also agree with how her removing the wallpaper at the end symbolized breaking free and gaining control over her life.

  4. William Coben William Coben

    I am in accordance with the idea that John played a dominant role over his wife in this short story and the gender roles stereotypes were clearly at play here. I also agree that the ending where the wallpaper was removed was liberating as she gained control over her self and her life.

  5. Alexander Barnett Alexander Barnett

    I believe that the way men were able to make women comply with their rules is to make them believe there is no chance for them to escape. By creating this hopelessness, it seems as if women are complying when in reality they feel that there is no escape.

  6. Samuel Hussey Samuel Hussey

    Another thing I noticed in this story was how different mental health was treated in this time period. Today, mental health is almost as important as physical health, with schools and businesses allowing “mental health days” for students and employees and sponsoring mental health awareness activities. At the end of the nineteenth century, mental health was completely looked down upon. Those who suffered from mental health diseases, like the narrator, were considered weak and told to isolate the same way someone with a physical illness would. However, keeping her up in the nursery is counterproductive by keeping her away with her thoughts. The wants of the woman were never considered to be correct because men believed that they could never know what is best for themselves.

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