The Yellow Wallpaper (1899)

Narrator: A mentally ill woman, whose name maybe Jane

Point of view: The story is told in first-person narration, focusing on her own thoughts, feelings, and views.

    The narrator begins to write her journal by describing the beauties of their temporary home. She describes it in emotional terms as a “colonial mansion” and as a haunted house and wonders how they were able to afford it, and why the house had been empty for so long. Her feeling that there is “something queer” about the situation.  She is suffering from “nervous depression” and of her marriage. She complains that her husband John, who is also her doctor, makes worse both her illness and her thoughts and concerns in general.  To get better she required avoiding any physical activity that she do, and she is especially forbidden from working and writing. She feels that activity, freedom, and interesting work would help her get better and tell us that she has begun her secret journal in order to “relieve her mind.” Her description is mostly positive, but distressing elements such as the “rings and things” in the bedroom walls, and the bars on the windows, keep showing up. She is mainly bothered by the yellow wallpaper in the bedroom, with its strange, formless pattern, and describes it as “revolting.” Her thoughts are interrupted by John’s attitude, and she is forced to stop writing.

    After some time in the summer house, the narrator becomes good at hiding her journal, and therefore hiding her true thoughts from John. She continues to desire for more stimulating company and activity, and she complain again about John’s denigrating, controlling ways. She mentions that John is worried about her becoming fixated on it, and that he has even refused to repaper the room to avoid supporting the ideas. The narrator’s imagination has been awakened. She mentions that she enjoys picturing people on the walkways around the house and that John always discourages such fantasies. As she describes the bedroom, which she says must have been a nursery for young children, she points out that the paper is torn off the wall in spots, there are scratches and gouges in the floor, and the furniture is heavy and nailed in place. Just as she begins to see a strange sub-pattern behind the main design of the wallpaper, her writing is interrupted again, by John’s sister, Jennie, who acts as housekeeper and nurse for the narrator.

    The narrator tells that her family has just visited for the 4th of July celebrations, leaving her more tired than ever. The narrator is alone most of the time and says that she has become “almost fond of the wallpaper” and that her primary task is solving the pattern on the wall paper. As she be becomes more obsessed about the imaginary person that she sees living in the wall paper.    

    Before long the wallpaper dominates the narrator’s imagination. She becomes private, hiding her interest in the paper and making sure no one else examines it so that she can “find it out” on her own what the markings meant. John thinks she is improving. But she sleeps less and less and is convinced that she can smell the paper all over the house, even outside. The imagination makes her believe that a woman is trying to get out from the wall paper. She suspects that John and Jennie are aware of her fixation, and she resolves to destroy the paper once and for all, peeling much of it off during the night, and the rest during the day in order to free the trapped woman

    At the end of the story the narrator goes insane and thinking that there are a lot of creeping woman around her and that she also came out from the wall paper.

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