Charlotte Perkins Gilman circa Gilman used her writing to explore the role of women in America during the late s and early s.
Table of Contents Plot Overview The narrator begins her journal by marveling at the grandeur of the house and grounds her husband has taken for their summer vacation. She describes it in romantic terms as an aristocratic estate or even a haunted house and wonders how they were able to afford it, and why the house had been empty for so long.
She complains that her husband John, who is also her doctor, belittles both her illness and her thoughts and concerns in general. She contrasts his practical, rationalistic manner with her own imaginative, sensitive ways. Her treatment requires that she do almost nothing active, and she is especially forbidden from working and writing.
As the first few weeks of the summer pass, the narrator becomes good at hiding her journal, and thus hiding her true thoughts from John.
She mentions that John is worried about her becoming fixated on it, and that he has even refused to repaper the room so as not to give in to her neurotic worries. She mentions that she enjoys picturing people on the walkways around the house and that John always discourages such fantasies.
She also thinks back to her childhood, when she was able to work herself into a terror by imagining things in the dark. 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 fixed in place.
As the Fourth of July passes, the narrator reports that her family has just visited, leaving her more tired than ever. John threatens to send her to Weir Mitchell, the real-life physician under whose care Gilman had a nervous breakdown.
The narrator is alone most of the time and says that she has become almost fond of the wallpaper and that attempting to figure out its pattern has become her primary entertainment. As her obsession grows, the sub-pattern of the wallpaper becomes clearer.
Whenever the narrator tries to discuss leaving the house, John makes light of her concerns, effectively silencing her. Each time he does so, her disgusted fascination with the paper grows.
At one point, she startles Jennie, who had been touching the wallpaper and who mentions that she had found yellow stains on their clothes. But she sleeps less and less and is convinced that she can smell the paper all over the house, even outside.
She discovers a strange smudge mark on the paper, running all around the room, as if it had been rubbed by someone crawling against the wall. The sub-pattern now clearly resembles a woman who is trying to get out from behind the main pattern.
The narrator sees her shaking the bars at night and creeping around during the day, when the woman is able to escape briefly.
The narrator mentions that she, too, creeps around at times. She suspects that John and Jennie are aware of her obsession, and she resolves to destroy the paper once and for all, peeling much of it off during the night.
The next day she manages to be alone and goes into something of a frenzy, biting and tearing at the paper in order to free the trapped woman, whom she sees struggling from inside the pattern. By the end, the narrator is hopelessly insane, convinced that there are many creeping women around and that she herself has come out of the wallpaper—that she herself is the trapped woman.
She creeps endlessly around the room, smudging the wallpaper as she goes.+ free ebooks online.
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Though the color of Mrs. Dickinson's wallpaper went unrecorded, the anecdote forms a striking parallel to Charlotte Perkins Gilman's ''The Yellow Wallpaper,'' first published in but, like Emily Dickinson's work, under-appreciated until decades after her death.
Charlotte Perkins Gillman's story "The Yellow Wallpaper" was published in as an indictment of the medical treatment prescribed to women suffering from the condition that was know at the time Discuss the characters in .
The Yellow Wallpaper study guide contains a biography of Charlotte Perkins Gilman, literature essays, a complete e-text, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.
LITERARY GENRES Prerequisite: The main focus of these courses is to study the relationship between form and meaning. The broadest literary ‘genres’ (or kinds of literature) are poetry, drama and prose (fiction or nonfiction).
Character Analysis in The Yellow Wallpaper The Unnamed Narrator: Charlotte Perkins Gilman presents subtle clues to help readers determine the identity of the unnamed narrator.
Reader can infer that the narrator is an upper-class married woman who just gave birth to a baby boy.