Analysis of the Story, The Yellow Wallpaper

The Yellow Wallpaper

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The Yellow Wallpaper


John’s wife, Mitchell is the voice of narration in the story. She keeps a journal that she secretly updates with the events that develop her around suffering. Through the journal, the revelation that she is nervous depression patient is made. Her husband John, who is a medical doctor, uses his medical expertise to counsel and help her out with the ailment that has beleaguered her health. The nervous depression drives the narrator into an obsession with a yellow wallpaper, and her fixation reveals to her a pattern that projects a woman trapped in a cage. At one time, she even startles the nurse, Jennie, who was also exploring the wallpaper.

As her conditions worsen, she starts smelling the paper everywhere around and outside the house. That goes to the extremes as she starts imagine that the woman crawls around the house at night, when yet still trapped. Significantly, she idealizes heads of strangled women who had been befallen by that fate in their attempt to escape from the cage. In the long run, she suffers what is seemingly a nervous breakdown as she starts imagining that she is the woman trapped in the cage and starts to crawl around the room. Her husband collapses upon the revelation of the on goings in the room when he comes in to find out what had caused the fuss. The narrator then starts crawling around him.

Analysis of the Story

Human nature in the story is succinctly explored through varied themes that have been employed by the writer (Edelstein, 2007). Patronization of women is evidenced in the story as the plot develops to project the feeling of superiority that is exhibited by John toward his wife. In a sense, she is relegated to a lesser figure that can barely express herself. Michelle’s mental derogation also reveals that some treatment mechanism that have been adopted are not beneficial to the human brain, as she finally suffers an extreme level of the nervous breakdown. Michelle suffered the breakdown also because she had been barely allowed to express herself on most subjects, or in some cases had her proposals rejected. As such, the story stresses the significance of expression in human nature (Sparknotes, 2014).

Symbolism in the story has been projected through the wallpaper that becomes Michelle’s fantasy and finally plays a significant role in driving her to the nervous breakdown (Edelstein, 2007). The wallpaper thus keeps the story going as revelations that are made around it lead to more exploration by the narrator. The other factor that significantly contributes to the story is the irony, as the story keeps taking turns and twists that keep changing perceptions and considerations. The fact that Michelle feels laughed at by her husband, and incident in which John’s treatment for his wife fails are the greatest examples of the ironical development. The narrator’s journal also plays a significant role in developing the story. By talking to herself through the journal, the narrator reveals most issues that have been factored in her life that affect her negatively (Sparknotes, 2014).


“The Yellow Wallpaper Charlotte Perkins Gilman.” SparkNotes. SparkNotes, 2014. Web. 1 Mar. 2015. <>.

Edelstein, Sari. “Charlotte Perkins Gilman and the Yellow Wallpaper.” Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers 24.1 (2007): 72-92. Print.