The story yellow wallpaper represents the catastrophic depiction of female’s descent who are in distress and insanity. Charlotte writes when women will struggle for their autonomy then their subordination would end thus, liberate themselves and man because distortion that comes from supremacy affects a man. Same as the women are marked by the servitude enforced on them. The philosophy is brilliantly explained by “The Yellow Wallpaper.” The mental health of narrator is reflecting the features of the house. In which she was trapped by her husband, who is destroying her. She further goes with her husband, a physician, to stay in a mansion to spend summer vacations. That mansion is deemed to be a place where narrator can pull through from post-delivery situation. She knows, she cannot take care of her baby, but she loves him. “This is blessings to be with the baby. How sweet baby! I am so nervous that I cannot be with him (Gilman 642).”
The symbolism is uneven from the predictable which Gilman used. A house is a symbol of security. The protagonist of the story has a feeling of being trapped in a house same as her mental condition. The windows of her room symbolize freedom, which is barred and she is holding barred windows. She is unable to express to her husband that she feels like being trapped. It is painful! His husband does not believe that she is sick. What does can anyone do? The narrator explains if a physician whose standard is high and he is her husband assures their relatives and friends that there is nothing wrong and there is no matter of concern except a nervous depression and hyper tendency. What can one do? She is not a single who is suppressed by her husband, but there are several other women in the society. Her brother is also a doctor.
The reactions to her husband’s dominance are reflected in the story. The narrator is always acting upon her husband’s desires and demands. She is perpetually passive and obedient to her husband even if she is depressed and miserable. Her husband gave her an idea that she must take proper rest if she wants to get herself recover soon. It is comparable to Charlotte’s life in which a doctor is treating her and prescribed her a rest.
John, narrator’s husband is not a favor that she should work. She was instructed not to touch a pencil, pen or brush and live a simple native life and she can only spend two hours a day in intellectual activities (Gilman 640). She says I cannot work unless I recover my health again. John prohibited her not to write a single word. It is a straightforward insinuation to Charlotte’s experience that a narrator is facing at post-delivery melancholy. After the birth of her daughter, Gilman suffered a disorder. The narrator is living in a nursery, she hates it, that her husband selected for them to live. She labels a nursery as a barred window and terrible. A further example of narrator’s behavior can be determined by her response to the room. “She does not like a room.”
It is an image of the nineteenth century in which mental illness and women were supposed. Women’s mental health was not considered, and they were supposed to be cared by their men. John did not want to disgrace, and shame of psychological disorder knotted to his family. He utters, I can help myself to get out of it. I will use my self-control and willpower and will not let any silly notions to stay with me. It is continuously reminded that today, civilization treats mental sickness differently. It was also the same perspective in the 19th century. The narrator allows her husband to control her and she represses her desires and needs. After watching a wallpaper in a room. She marks, I have never seen a destitute paper in my life, having straggling and glitzy patterns, which are committing original sin. It is impressive to note down that bed in the room is pinned to the floor and an immovable bed.
The narrator expresses, the faded figure it seemed as if it can jolt the pattern as she wants to get out. I got up to see the paper if it moved or not and when I returned to room John was awake. She further says the woman behind the pattern shakes it, and it does move. Gilman pulls the reader into the world of narrator through convincing descriptions and senses. These descriptions correctly summarize the imaginations of readers, and it is insane. It is like the fearful feelings inside narrator’s mind are reflected by lingering pictures of the wallpaper. The protagonist is not able to describe her feelings to anyone. She starts to see herself in wallpaper. She mirrors herself as trapped in a room and compares a woman reflexing in wallpaper, who is stuck, likewise as herself.
The narrator imagines her thoughts as confined in a room with a grilled window, same as the woman behind the wallpaper. At night, light as twilight, lamplight, candlelight and most awful them of all, it comes through the barred window.
Another similarity that narrator and woman behind the image are reflexing the actions when the narrator sees outside the window at dark-night lit with shaded light. She sees her in dark grape gazebo, sneaking to the shrubbery park. Narrator further sees in her imagination that she is trolling under the trees on a long road. When any carriage passes by from her, she hid under blackberry plant. She does not blame her. It feels humiliating to get caught moving stealthily by daylight. The narrator is telling about her degradation if she sneaks around.
This story marvelously portrays a woman whose feelings, decisions, and opinions in a real world have never been recognized, marked or acknowledged as valid. For a woman, a center of her world is portraying the wallpaper and a room she hates most. Despite the fact that, the narrator was not permitted to write, she begins to read the wallpaper unless she finds an escape in it. The narrator realizes she will never live behind barred windows. Finally, she understands that the woman in the wallpaper is herself. Perhaps it can be summed up in a conversation that John is happy to see me recover. He laughed, and I appeared to be prosperous. I do not intend to tell him that it is due to the wallpaper. In the end, she crawls over her husband who was lying on the floor unconscious. It is deemed as her victory over her husband.
Women were deemed as most deficient in their capacity as fragile and mentally weak. Women have been discouraged to write because their writings can form an identity and defiance for them in a patriarchal society. Feminists focus on a triumph at the end of the story. Work of Gilman challenged women’s social construction in a male-dominant society. In “The Yellow Wallpaper” narrator of the story is not permitted to take any decision or to participate in her medical diagnosis treatment, but she is entirely enforced by her husband, to yield to everything. Indirectly, it is the male’s voice which has control on women. According to which a woman should think, perceive and speak about the world around her.
Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. The yellow wallpaper. Project Gutenberg, 1994.