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The Yellow Wallpaper | Short Story By Charlotte Perkins Gilman

by Naz khaliq
The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

The Yellow Wallpaper ( summary):

The Yellow Wallpaper is a short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and it is about a woman who loves to write. However, she is facing some psychological issues in her life. Her husband (John) and her brother both are physicians and think that she has temporary depression and she has to quit her writings.

However, she loves to write and she thinks that writing decreases her depression and she feels good. John (her husband) thinks that she should not think about her condition and she says that he is right because when she thinks about it, she feels worst about herself.

Her views on the house:

To divert her attention from her condition, she observes the house that she is currently living in. She thinks it is the most beautiful place and has a beautiful garden. However, she thinks that this house is strange as it is an abandoned house for quite a long time. She does not like the view of her room. she wants the room downstairs but her husband says that it is better upstairs.

The Yellow wallpaper:

There are different patterns on the wall, painted here and there and sometimes it irritates her. She observes and visualizes these patterns according to her thoughts. It has many patches and she thinks that it is the worst paper that she has seen in her life.

She says that since her childhood she has had the ability to imagine things on walls and furniture. She could see what other children could never see. In her childhood, she used to imagine a chair as a friend and she knew that she can jump in that whenever she would feel fear of other things.

With the passage of time, she says that she is getting used to this wallpaper and it now dwells in her mind.

After that she imagines a woman crawling on this wallpaper but she does not tell anyone about it.

The relation with her husband:

She says that her husband is busy all day and night treating other patients and he thinks that there is nothing to worry about her condition. His sister keeps an eye on her so that she will not write.

Her husband loves her and he does not want her to think about random things. He wants her to take care of herself for him and she is the only one who can control her weird imaginations about different things.

She finally tells her husband that she wants him to take her away from this house and especially this yellow wallpaper. However, he says that he knows better than she is doing well here. He knows that she is gaining good health and there is nothing wrong with her.

Ending of The Yellow Wallpaper:

At the end of The Yellow Wallpaper, the woman locks the door and starts crawling over the wall. Her husband shrieks outside and wants her to open the door. She tells him where the key is and he opens the door. He sees her crawling over the wall and she has pulled off most of the wallpaper. Her husband faints at the end of the story The Yellow wallpaper and she says she doesn’t know why he fainted.

Themes of “The Yellow Wallpaper”:

There are many themes and speculation about The Yellow Wallpaper that can be possible in this story.

  1. Her Love for writing is not appreciated:

Her (the narrator) love for writing is not appreciated and there is no one around her who encourages her. They all forbid her to write. On the other hand, she thinks when she writes she feels better. However, no one asks her about her feelings or choice.

2) Her Husband loves her but unable to understand her:

Although her husband loves her, he controls her every action. He does not allow her to write even when she loves to write. He thinks that she is doing better while she herself tries to tell him that she is not feeling well. When she tells him about the house or about the wallpaper, he does not listen to her. He insists on staying in the same house, the same room and with the same wallpaper. She likes to express her thoughts on paper rather than say them to her husband because she knows he will not understand her.

3) Controlling husband can also be one reason for her depression:

One theme of The Yellow wallpaper can also be that husbands do not take their wives seriously. They can love them but they are unable to understand them. They think themselves wise and think they know better what to do with them. They decide the lives of their wives and this led them to depression. Moreover, they do not think that women can suffer from depression.

He is very careful and loving and hardly let me stir without special direction”.

4) Sensitive since her childhood:

The narrator of The Yellow Wallpaper is a sensitive person since her childhood and she observes and feels everything closely and differently from other people. After her marriage, she needs her husband to understand her. He gives her love and care but is unable to understand her. After she starts finding the yellow wallpaper weird or feels uncomfortable in the room, he does not listen to her. He prefers his own assumption that nothing is wrong with her, it is just temporary effects.

She lives alone all day and this leads her to imagine different things and objects on the walls. This imagination later lead her to insanity which according to her finally escapes.

5) Lack of understanding from loved ones lead her to take interest in Yellow wallpaper:

It seems that she needs her husband. He is away from her due to his work but she needs him.“I am glad my case is not serious”. Although he tries to show her affection and love he is unable to understand her in the way that she thinks he should. She is not allowed to meet other people other than her husband and his sister and they too treat her differently.

She stops telling them how she feels about things because she knows they will not understand it. She writes when no one is around because she knows they will not allow her to write. She stops telling them that she is unable to sleep at night and later she prefers not to sleep in order to observe the wall.

She starts taking interest in the wallpaper. She starts finding affection in that yellow wallpaper. She starts thinking that some woman is encaged behind the bars of this yellow wallpaper. She thinks that woman wants to get out of this wallpaper. In the end, she equates herself to that woman. She scratches that wallpaper in order to give freedom to that woman. In order to free that woman, she thinks she has freed herself from her husband and other people.

6) When people are unable to help you, only you are left to take action of your choice:

She sees her own struggle to get out of the current situation and all the controlling humans on the wall. She imagines and creates the objects according to her condition which she thinks she is going through. In the end, she gets freedom in the sense that she drags that woman out who she imagines is locked behind this wallpaper. Her emotions and feelings that she was unable to express, now turn into insanity and she thinks she is free now.

The Yellow Wallpaper depicts how a lack of understanding can lead you towards insanity. This also throws light on you cannot close your eyes on someone’s depression especially if you think you love them. If you think someone is doing alright, maybe physically he would but mentally he is suffering. All we can do is try to understand someone better.

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