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Charlotte Perkins Gilman, the American female writer, had mental illness a large part of her life, an experience that became a direct inspiration for “Yellow Wallpaper”. It was written mainly in an autobiographical tone, so the writer describes her inner and outer world from the first hand. A simultaneously heavy and light-hearted style of the writing is a significant part of the narrative, which demonstrates the sharp contrast between the perception of the main heroine and the rest of the characters.
First, the plot, as expected, revolves around the female heroine like the writer herself. She behaves as a modest and kind-hearted woman who seemingly obeys her family’s recommendations on improving her health. However, she is, in fact, not wholly obedient, it is possible to note by her saying: “I disagree with their ideas” (Gilman, p. 392). Where does the root of disagreement lie? It includes several things like the prohibition to write and the unpleasant atmosphere in her room. They discord the harmony in her surroundings, a quiet mansion with a beautiful garden where the events take place. The heroine views her world in the house as almost happy, and a few things do not allow her to enjoy it. According to Gillman, the heroine continually points out the idea of “horrid wallpaper” with multiple patterns which she tries to decode (p. 397). Why exactly the wallpaper? The wallpaper likely turned into the subject of her fixation, which disrupts her inner state of peace. The obsession is described in a systematic, but frightening way, as is the process of her deciding to pull the wallpaper off the wall. Thus, the leading theme of the plot shows the attempt to understand and then destroy the unexplainable fear. This fear is deeply individual and cannot be comprehended by anyone else, so it must be torn down despite them.
To sum up, in “Yellow Wallpaper”, Gilman managed to explore her issues and the ways to handle them in her way. The leading character wishes for a peaceful life and improvement of her health yet struggles against the fear of wallpaper in her room, an enigmatic and eerie existence. This struggle presents her impressions of things she cannot understand which must be destroyed to bring relief.
Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. “Yellow Wallpaper”, The Story and Its Writer, Compact, edited by Ann Charters, Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2014, pp. 391-403.