Writing on Women Writers

A site for college students to write about women writers.

The Yellow Wallpaper

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Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s, The Yellow Wallpaper, opens reader eyes to the medical community, specially their views on mental illness, in the 1800’s. The main character,a woman who remains nameless, has misdiagnosing of her mental illness and it taken to a sequestered home with her husband John, a physician, to hopefully get better. Anthropomorphism (to attribute a human personality or form to an inanimate object) plays an integral part throughout the short story.

“I get positively angry with the impertinence of it,and the everlastingness. Up and down and sideways they crawl, and those absurd unblinking eyes are everywhere. There is one place where two breadths didn’t match; and the eyes go all up and down the line, one a little higher than the other. I never saw so much expression in an inanimate thing before, and we all know how much expression inanimate things have! I used to lie awake as a child, and get more entertainment and terror out of blank walls and plain furniture than most children could find in a toystore. I remember what a kindly wink the knobs of our big old bureau used to have, and there was one chair that always seemed like a strong friend” (267).


“The front pattern does move-and no wonder!

The woman behind shakes it! Sometimes I think there are great many women behind, and sometimes only one and she crawls around fast. And her crawling shakes it all over” (272).

“If only that top pattern could be gotten off from the under one! I mean to try tearing it, little by little” (272).


As the story progresses, an obvious conclusion can be drawn that the main characters mental condition steadily decreases. Writing seems to help her express her thoughts but subsequently exhausts her. As she is left alone, which is often due to the rest cure, it soothes her but heightens her mental instability at great lengths. While in her solitary confinement, she begins to stare at and relate to the wallpaper. She becomes infatuated with the paper and tearing it off the wall. It seems as though the more she intently examines the paper, the sicker she gets and wants to escape (specifically jumping out the window is something she refers to as an “admirable exercise” (273).

“”I’ve got out at last,” said I, “in spite of you and Jane! And I’ve pulled off most of the paper, so you can’t put me back!”

Now why should that man have fainted?

But he did, and right across my path by the wall, so that I had creep over him!” (274).


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