“The Yellow Wallpaper” is a story about an unnamed woman diagnosed with a nervous depression by her husband who is a physician. John, her husband, rents a house for the summer hoping that her mental condition would improve as a result of the change in environment. John adopts a unique way of treating her illness by isolating her physically, intellectually and socially.
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The woman is confined into a house and is not allowed to write because John believes that this will put her health into risk. This treatment fails to work and the woman just finds herself all the time in her bedroom where she starts hallucinating and seeing women moving behind the wall.
The woman in the story begins to hallucinate at the point when she sees something moving on the wall. She says that by watching it keenly at night, she discovers that the front part was moving and a woman behind the wallpaper was shaking it. She says that, “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” (Gilman, 1899 p 13). The trapping of women portrays her current situation.
The woman behind the wall represents many women who are imprisoned in various states in their lives and they cannot do anything independently without being influenced by external parties like John and Jane as portrayed by the narrator when she says, “”I’ve got out at last,” said I, “in spite of you and Jane” (Gilman, 1899 p 17).
A woman behind the wall represents women who are fighting for their liberty because they are in a state of slavery and depend on various issues. The narrator identifies this with the woman behind the wall because she has been imprisoned by her situation and she has been fighting for her freedom all along. The narrator, just like the woman behind the wall, finally manages to come out of the prison she was in and says, “”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!” (Gilman, 1899 p 17). It shows that she could not suffer forever from social injustice committed against her by her husband. The same way as the woman behind the wall comes out, she also comes out of her slavery, and this shows that women can obtain freedom from social oppression they are undergoing as depicted in the story.
Gilman, C.P. (1899). The Yellow Wallpaper. Mundus Publishing.