Tag Archives: “The Yellow Wallpaper”

The Woman in The Wallpaper vs The Actual Woman

The Yellow wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is a tale of a woman fighting her madness. She[For the purpose of distinction we’ll call her Mary] believes there is a woman inside the wallpaper and ultimately becomes obsessed with wanting to ‘free her’. I saw the woman inside the wallpaper as the part of Mary that was actually trapped in marriage. ‘Mary’ in the beginning thought John was loving and meant well, at this moment the woman in the wallpaper didn’t exist, if anything ‘Mary’ hated the wallpaper and didn’t even want to live in the room. As her madness manifested and she became more obsessed with the wallpaper she imagined there was a woman who was there trapped, she also saw many women outside her window who ‘creep around’ and thought them to have walked out of the wallpaper. At this point she found John to be annoying.

I get unreasonably angry with John sometimes. I’m sure I never used to be so sensitive. I think it is due to this nervous condition. But John says if I feel so, I shall neglect proper self-control; so I take pains to control myself-before him, at least, and that makes me very tired….. John does not know how much I really suffer. He knows there is no reason to suffer, and that satisfies him

‘Mary’ begins to realize John isn’t exactly the nicest person. The woman on the other hand, since it is now that  ‘Mary’ noticed her existence, would be the side of her that wouldn’t notice this neglect but rather see it as ‘Mary’ being the reason why John doesn’t spend much time home anymore.


I wonder if they all come out of that wallpaper as I did?

This was the most interesting moment, in  my opinion, when the women was no longer ‘She’ but rather became ‘I’. Hence sparking my interest in writing from the so-called woman’s point of view. I didn’t see the woman as an actual physical being but rather the quarreling side of ‘Mary’; the one who wanted to remain in her barrier [wallpaper]. The way I see it the woman is probably just as intrigued by ‘Mary’ as she was by her in the actual story. I felt the woman wasn’t the personification of  ‘Mary’s’ madness but rather her sanity, the madness was ‘Mary’ herself.  The woman didn’t go through the same emotions that ‘Jane’ did but rather saw them happening from the sidelines and found them rather foolish and possibly wished it wasn’t happening. I felt the woman should be both intrigued and intimidated by the madness that was taking over ‘Jane’.

The woman in the wallpaper was the part of ‘Mary’ that was bound by the conforms of society at that time. This story was written in 1899 and women still didn’t have a sense of individuality without men (their husbands). Being that there was a part of her she saw in the wallpaper and frantically tried freeing it can be seen in two ways; the wallpaper woman didn’t want to be freed or didn’t feel like she needed to be freed. In my retelling the wallpaper woman was pretty much powerless she was able to voice her thoughts but couldn’t  anything to control the events nor did she have the capability of reigning the madness. The madness through her eyes was an ugly thing that was taking over ‘Mary’s’ body and literally spilling out of her (into her speech, her journal, and her overall demeanor.) She (the woman) wasn’t pleased with this and though she was powerless she did give her insight about certain things that happened in the actual story. I kept the woman’s periphery limited to what a person would see standing against the wall without moving. She, just like ‘Mary’, wasn’t able to discern the others thoughts and everything was judged by examination. The woman was a threat to ‘Mary’ and vice versa. Think of those movie/tv show scenes where they show your reflection talking back to you and voicing it’s opposition, the reflection wasn’t some supernatural occurrence and nor did you imagine it but rather it was a personification of your inner voice; sometimes you can ignore it and sometimes it can become louder and overcome your will. Standing at a crossroad in life where you have to pick whether you want to continue on the path you were originally on or whether you want to deviate from it is a hard decision to make. There’s always going to be a part of you that is eager to accept the change and there’s going to be a part of you that is reluctant. You battle between these two choices until own dominates the other. In this case, I feel the original story was this inner battle woven within the psychological issue ‘Mary’ became sick from. The madness showcased in the retelling however was not the possible psychological problem of ‘Mary’s’ but rather the desire to break conformity. The woman saw this to be a threatening ugly thing that was slowly creeping out of ‘Mary’ and she didn’t like it one bit.

I kept the original ending of the story because in both point of views these two opposing sides become one after the wallpaper/barrier was broken. It seemed wrong to change any of that so I left it the way it was. The ending was what ties both point of views together and makes them one it also showcases that both the woman and ‘Mary’ are actually the same person. To change it would give the story a different meaning and give you the sense that there was an actual woman.

You can obviously see this story in another way. You would perhaps think that the woman wanted to be free but didn’t have the means to do so but then ‘Mary’s’ madness wouldn’t have shaped itself the way it did. Or, the woman could have just been a figment of her imagination instead of a personification of the side of her that opposed to her desire to escape. This was just the way I read the story and what I thought was happening.

The Woman

The Yellow Wallpaper



noun im·per·ti·nence \(ˌ)im-ˈpər-tə-nən(t)s, –ˈpərt-nən(t)s\
a. irrelevance, inappropriateness
b. incivility, insolence

Page 60 Paragraph 11/12 – “There is a recurrent spot where the pattern lolls like a broken neck and two bulbous eyes stare at you upside down. I get positively angry with the impertinence of it and the everlastingness,”

John’s wife is talking about how inappropriate and uncivil the bulbous eyes look to her and the absurdity of the situation of being in this room with the ugly yellow wallpaper

The girl behind bars

I am eager to post a blog about the Yellow Wall-Paper story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. This story overall was such an interesting and captivating read. I love how this one is in an unreliable narrative. It gives so much insight to the thought processes and confusions of a patient who may be delusional.

When she first talks about the figure she sees inside the wallpaper, I immediately related her illusions to her. She said, “The faint figure behind seemed to shake the pattern, just as if she wanted to get out.” This is just like her situation, she is stuck inside the house because of her husband and all she wants to do is to get out of the house.

She also described the patterns on the wallpaper as bars. She feels like she is stuck there and can not escape. Her only escape is through writing in the diary that we are reading. When she tries to confide in her husband, he ignores her. “It is so hard to talk with John about my case, because he is so wise. ”

What I really want to bring attention to though is the passages at the very end. I feel like she eventually turned into the girl in the wallpaper. “I wonder if they all come out of that wallpaper as I did.”

As I did? Did she feel like she was in the wallpaper and now she has finally escaped?

“It is so pleasant to be out in this great room and creep around as I please”

She is creeping around like she describes the figures in the wallpapers does!

When John finally gets his way in, she says, “I’ve got out at last.”

It gets extremely spooky in the end when she says. “Now why should that man have fainted? But he did, and right across my path by the wall, so that I had to creep over him every time!”

He was no longer her loving husband, and she is now the figure in the wallpaper…


“The Yellow Wallpaper” and “The Cottagette”

For the two stories by Charlotte Perkins Gilman that we have read, the settings are new houses where the both main characters moved to, but each house gives us quite different mood.

In “The Yellow Wallpaper,” the narrator describes her new house in the second paragraph. “A colonial mansion, a hereditary estate, I would say a haunted house, and reach the height of romantic felicity – but that would be asking too much of fate! … Else, why should it be let so cheaply? And why have stood so long untenanted?” Although the narrator’s husband decided to move to this house for his wife’s health and cure of her depression for the summer, she keeps telling the readers about her bad feelings about the house. She says the house looks like a haunted house, and there will be a reason for the cheap price. In page 58, the narrator mentions about the broken greenhouses. And she says “There was some legal trouble, I believe, something about the heirs and coheirs; anyhow, the place has been empty for years. That spoils my ghostliness, I am afraid, but I don’t care – there is something strange about the house – I can feel it.” Since the beginning of the story, the narrator describes her new house negatively including the “repellent, almost revolting; a smouldering unclean yellow, strangely faded by the slow-turning sunlight” wallpaper. All these word choices of the author provide readers information that the narrator doesn’t like the house and negative atmosphere throughout the story as well.

On the other hand, in “The Cottagette,” the narrator, Ms. Malda, provides us the description of setting in the third paragraph. “I was delighted with it. More than delighted. Here this tiny shell of fresh unpainted wood peeped out from under the trees, the only house in sight except the distant white specks on far off farms, and the little wandering village in the river-threaded valley. It sat right on the turf,–no road, no path even, and the dark woods shadowed the back windows.” In paragraph 7, the narrator says “never did I know the real joy and peace of living, before that blessed summer at “High Court.”” When describing the house, the use of all these positive word choices of the narrator in the third paragraph gives the reader the positive impact about the house. Also in the paragraph 7, she feels “the real joy and peace of living” during the summer at the new place.

Even the settings for the two stories are same as a new place where the main character started to live and both are little far from the town, the house in “The Yellow Wallpaper” is depicted as an abandoned haunted house, whereas the “Cottagette” looks more peaceful and bright.