The “Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins is a classic short story about the slow descent into madness of a young woman. The story is regarded as a pioneering feminist work that emphasizes women’s voting rights in the United States. Also, the central theme is independence, and it demonstrates how women can get stuck in relationships with their lovers. All of the events in the story show that women can overcome preconceptions and it is critical to ask challenging questions about women’s roles, especially regarding their mental health and freedom of autonomy and self-identity. The story shows worsening of a woman’s mental health during her rest period with her family in a leased property during summer. Her obsession with the yellow wallpaper in her bedroom throughout the story illustrates her descent into psychosis as a result of her unhappiness. She despised the awful wallpaper to the point where she wanted to move downstairs, but her husband, John, refused.
The protagonist also expresses her disgust with the wallpaper, describing how it had scratches all over it, as though “boys’ schools” had used it (Perkins, Pg 2). The protagonist describes the wallpaper’s unattractive, stating, “I’ve never seen an uglier paper in my life” (Perkins, Pg 2). She intended to tell John that she did not like the wallpaper and that he should replace it, but John responded that she was letting her imagination run away with her. The majority of the events depict a woman ruled by her husband, who expects her to fulfill cultural norms.
The short story begins when the narrator expresses her dissatisfaction with her husband’s mental treatment of her. According to the protagonist, she believes that writing is the only way to relieve her mind of the stress she is experiencing. She does not want to use meds to deal with her mental health problem because she believes that pleasant employment involving change and excitement will be more effective. The occurrence reflects her dissatisfaction with what John has her doing and her assumption that her mental state would improve if she could work.
In addition, the narrator desires to write journals, despite John and his sister’s objections, which is the story’s rising action. John claims that if she writes, she allows her mental state to govern her, which will exacerbate her problem. She writes about how they originally moved into this location in her journals and how something was not quite right about the house. On the other hand, John believes that with relaxation and not worrying about anything, she will improve. Furthermore, as the reader progresses through the story’s plot, the protagonist begins to discuss the wallpaper more.
The narrator becomes obsessed with the wallpaper between July 4th and their departure, sleeping all day and staying up all night to stare at it. She believes that the wallpaper will be more present and the patterns will change. Then she sees a woman in the wallpaper changing her habits and keenly observing her. As a result, John stays overnight in town a few weeks before they leave, and the narrator desires to spend time in her room so she may stare at the wallpaper uninterrupted. The story’s mood is mainly melancholy and depressing because she cannot achieve anything due to her mental state. She is not allowed to do anything that may cause her distress and exhaustion. Due to this, the narrator of the story is depressed and sad. Ultimately, the narrator reinforces the message for change by not listening to John, especially when she keeps a secret journal that she writes in every day when John is not around.
Perkins Gilman, Charlotte. “The yellow wallpaper.” (1892).