Author Archives: Stevens Jean

Madness? or an Act of Freeing Oneself

The yellow Wallpaper by Charlott is definitely interesting to say the least. It’s about a woman who has been brought to a large colonial house by her “loving” and “caring” husband for the sake of helping her improve her health. Now that I’ve got the intro out of the way, let’s talk about the main argument of this story. Is the main character dissenting into madness or is she finding herself and who she is as a person and in doing so setting herself free.

First, let’s get to know main character. We aren’t given a name nor does the story explicitly give it to us so I’m just going to call her Jane Doe. Now, Jane Doe is an  upper middle class woman who is married to a well known physician. Jane is a rather passive woman who tries not to anger or upset anyone. Now, this isn’t because she’s the kind of person who doesn’t want to bother people. It more has to do with the fact that she herself doesn’t want to “disturb”  or “annoy” her husband, John. Who she seems to be afraid of more than love (This doesn’t stop her from lying to her self over and over again to reaffirm the “fact” that her John is a  “loving” “caring” and “patient” person.) She loves to write mostly because the fact that it’s the only form of expression she can use considering the fact that anything else she does to entertain herself usually gets stifled by her husband’s  “better Judgement” Oh, she also has a kid too which she rarely ever sees. I’m sure saying her husband had a hand in that for reasons not directly explained (Likely chance he doesn’t let them meet for the sake of his wife’s health) would be a safe enough assumption to make  (If the professor is reading this then: Yes, i know we shouldn’t make assumptions but, limiting one’s interpretation of a story by the text itself can be so boring….Kind of like how the main character feels when it comes to feeling limited.)

Now, let’s talk about the husband. John is a well known physician who seems to be the kind of person who is completely sure of his diagnosis when it comes to figuring out what may be wrong with a specific person. He may seem like a patient and caring man but, by how he acts when his wife brings up specific topics like her health and well being, that patient attitude ends up becoming more of an illusion or a front. He’s the controlling sort, which shows as plain as day when the main character talks about her carefully made daily routine that he makes for her. He also has a sister (whose name is Jane) who is just like him but even more so (Main character’s words not mine.)

Now that I’ve gotten the main 3 characters out of the way, 4 if you want to count “the woman in the wallpaper, let’s now address the elephant in the room. Is the main character dissenting into madness or is she Trying to break free of her forcefully imposed restraints. I think it’s obvious where my stance lies by how i worded that last sentence. The character is desperately trying to break free of the constraints that are imposed on her and the constraints that are imposed on her by herself. It has been brought up time and time again that the character goes with whatever her husband and sister in law says. Jane Doe seems to afraid to go against what  John says so she meekly goes with it regardless of how she herself feels about it. But, If you were to really look at it,  almost nothing in Jane’s life is of her own control. Everything is being decided by others. So, the fact that she writes when no one is around (even though  writing is a forbidden pastime because it would be detrimental to her recovery. (John’s words not mine).) makes it all the more apparent that Jane herself is constantly stifled by the world she lives in.  So, Jane Doe, secluded from society, in a room that she herself hates can do nothing but write when alone, follow her husband’s orders and well..that’s it. Or, well, I would say “that’s it” but, there is one thing that Jane always talks about. And that thing is the yellow wallpaper. The wallpaper that is ripped and faded. The wallpaper that Jane herself hates the very existence of. And you want to know why she hates it? It’s because of the fact that the yellow wallpaper directly represents her life. Jane Doe herself doesn’t know this but we as the reader end up realising at as the story goes on. From the beginning of the story, Jane constantly talks about how she hates the wallpaper. She hated the images that the ugly yellow color brought up, she hated the patterns that looked like bars. And as the story went on, Jane started to see something in in the wallpaper this something was a being of sorts, a caged woman in fact . This being who seems to be behind the the white bars. This being that incessantly shakes the bars at night and seems to go quiet during the day. For the sake of convenience, let’s call this being the “shadow.” As the story goes on, Jane starts to become more and more entranced with the shadow. The way it desperately shakes the bars at night, the way it escapes its cage to go outside, the way it hides from others as they come into or out of the house. The shadow (in my honest opinion) seems to be Jane herself personified. A personification that only she can see in this ugly, disturbing and downright limiting yellow wallpaper and outside her window. As the the shadow shakes the cage, it represents Jane’s willingness to break away from her controlling captors. As the shadow walks outside to creep, it represents Jane’s yerning to go outside and just be able to do what she wants without anyone telling her otherwise. Which brings us to the ultimate conclusion. When Jane ultimately decided to break the shadow out of it’s cage by ripping out the wallpaper. As Jane, rips the paper, the shadow helps by shaking the cage. This represents Jane finally going out of her way to do what she so desperately wants to do. To be free. And the one person she wants to show this to. The most important person that she herself wants to bare witness to his glorious event is the main person that has been keeping her caged. Her husband. We as the reader end up realising this when Jane locks herself in the and subsequently throwing the key out the window onto the front porch. Jane would tell no one about the key other then John. To Jane, her husband is the jail warden, to her, he’s the one that is the main cause of almost everything in her life that she so very much hates. Which is why, this story in my very humble opinion is about a caged woman finally breaking free rather than dissenting into inevitable madness.




Don’t be get the idea. (Girl Response)

                The passage in of itself is told through a mother’s point of view as she teaches her daughter how to act/behave in many, many, many different situations. Many people (or i would assume it is many) may think of the mother as a cruel and downright mean woman based on her way of speaking and teaching. Lines like ” On Sundays try to walk like a lady and not like the slut you are so bent on becoming” comes to mind. But! This is not the right way of defining said mother. This story is about a very worried mother who is trying her absolute best to instruct her daughter on how to become a respectable young woman worth marrying. She dreadfully fears that her daughter might become a “Slut” if she doesn’t lead her down the right path. I guess you can make the assumption that the mother doesn’t have a whole lot of faith or confidence in her daughter when it comes to growing up. She fears that if she doesn’t step in to direct her daughter’s every action then her daughter will undoubtedly be the thing that she fears the most. An uncouth and unmarriable woman. I can kind of understand the sentiment behind the actions of the mother. If you really analyze her, you find that she’s just your typical worried mother who wants the best for her child. Many parents are like this. They all worry about how their children will grow/mature and what kind of adult they may become once they reach that certain age (when i say certain age i mean the age when a person reaches adulthood but, that age completely depends on the society in which that individual lives in and i’m just going to end this digression here before it ends up becoming a two page rant.) I don’t however agree with the mother’s way of converting her loving sentiment into action, though. Instructing your child and giving them advice every once in awhile is fine but, being too overbearing can be somewhat detrimental to a child’s relationship with their parents and the child’s growth in the potential long run.


                  So, to put it succinctly, (you can just consider this as a tl:dr if you want) The mother loves her child very much and is doing what she thinks is the best course of action in raising her daughter which, is to thoroughly teach/instruct her  on how to act in every single situation she can think of so her daughter can become a respectable young lady and not an uncouth one. The mother’s  sentiment is noble but her actions could use a lot of work.