The Yellow Wallpaper: Quotes Explained

Quotes Explained

Welcome to The Yellow Wallpaper Quotes page prepared by our editorial team! Here you’ll find the important Yellow Wallpaper quotes about freedom, gender, family, depression, and other themes of the short story.

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📑 The Yellow Wallpaper: Important Quotes Explained

The Yellow Wallpaper: Quote #1

“I never saw a worse paper in my life. One of those sprawling flamboyant patterns committing every artistic sin… The color is repellant, almost revolting; a smouldering, unclean yellow, strangely faded by the slow-turning sunlight.”

The Yellow Wallpaper, entry 1

This quote introduces the central focus of the story – the image of the yellow wallpaper. Deprived of any way to let her creative juices flow, the narrator focuses on the object that draws the most attention in the house. The unfortunate circumstance is that the wallpaper is so visually unpleasant. Ugly things have more expressive power than beautiful ones. The artistic nature of the narrator leaves her no chance of abstracting her mind from the wallpaper. It is so atrocious in its design, that it’s impossible to put the matter aside. It’s especially understandable given the fact that the narrator is forced to spend all her free time in the room with the walls covered by the source of the distress.

The wallpaper is spared no epithets of the utmost colorful masterfulness. The narrator, banned from working, finds an excellent cause to practice her writing skills. Her artistic nature craves expression, and the wallpaper offers a great excuse to do so. The theme of self-expression is prevailing in The Yellow Wallpaper. The narrator, a female writer in the patriarchal setting of the late 19th century, is denied access to any means of creative outlet. Her husband, “a physician of high standing,” is convinced that it’s her imagination to blame for her condition. The narrator is said to suffer from “a slight hysterical tendency,” aka “neurasthenia.” That was a favorite diagnosis of the psychiatrists of the time. Today, her condition would be classified as postpartum depression. The treatment would be completely different from the one the narrator was subjected to. Thanks in part to the work of Gilman, we don’t have to go through such punitive treatment today.

The Yellow Wallpaper: Quote #2

“Life is very much more exciting now than it used to be. You see I have something more to expect, to look forward to, to watch. I really do eat better, and am more quiet than I was.”

The Yellow Wallpaper, entry 6

This quotation depicts the turning point for the narrator’s breaking psyche. Her mental state is deteriorating. She grows unable to differentiate between reality and her hallucinations, more and more so. The sight of the yellow wallpaper used to frighten and upset her. Now, she finds pleasure in observing it. The narrator, with nothing to do and no way to give exercise to her running imagination, is forced to fixate on the hated object. That is the only way to do the mental work she needs and craves. She doesn’t fixate on something she hates willingly or consciously, of course. The process happens gradually.

The wallpaper continues to be a source of disdain and disgust. But now, the narrator has embraced the unhealthy thing she’s been indulging in. She lets her imagination take over and go wild. That is what keeps the woman “quiet” these days.

Her subconscious has found a way to distract her mind from the idle suffering. She focuses her thoughts on something interesting, albeit so unpleasant. That is a way for her psyche to cope with the trauma.

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The Yellow Wallpaper: Quote #3

“I’m feeling ever so much better! I don’t sleep much at night, for it is so interesting to watch developments; but I sleep a good deal in the daytime. In the daytime it is tiresome and perplexing.”

The Yellow Wallpaper, entry 7

The narrator reports an improvement in her condition. Of course, she is ultimately wrong in her self-assessment. She becomes unreliable more and more so as the story progresses. As it’s evident from the quote, she has assumed an unhealthy lifestyle of sleeping in the daytime. Even in her deteriorating mental state, the narrator understands that such behavior will be reprimanded and stopped. The abnormality of the obsession with the wallpaper is clear from the following description of her observations.

The moonlight, an obligatory element of the Gothic genre narrative, changes the yellow wallpaper in front of the narrator’s very eyes. In the daytime, the Woman behind the wallpaper is subdued. In the moonlight, she becomes active and shakes the pattern, trying to get out. In the same manner, the narrator feels tired and perplexed in the daytime. Then, there is nothing for her to do. In the night, the action is on.

The Yellow Wallpaper: Quote #4

“I have found out another funny thing, but I shan’t tell it this time! It does not do to trust people too much.”

The Yellow Wallpaper, entry 10

This quotation shows how the narrator is starting to lose her perception of self and how her identity shifts to that of the Woman behind the wallpaper. The latter is now simultaneously herself and the shadow figure from behind the pattern. When the narrator notices a new exciting detail of the yellow wallpaper, she doesn’t rush to write down her observation. Because she assumes some features of the trapped figure’s personality – which are slyness, distrust, and the love for crawling – she doesn’t want to inform her real self about this detail through the diary since she trusts neither her nor the other characters of the story. Thus the reader is left to guess what that detail is.

The Yellow Wallpaper: Quote #5

“I’ve got out at last,.. 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 to creep over him every time!”

The Yellow Wallpaper, entry 11

This quote is the culmination and the climax of The Yellow Wallpaper. That is the thing the narrator has been craving all this time. She was trying to resolve the tension with her captors one way or another. She has been silenced for a long time, trapped by the societal norms dictating her to submit.

Only by breaking could her mind give her the freedom to express the things she needed. And that’s how the narrator’s anger with her prisoners, her husband, and his sister found a way to be relieved.

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A possible interpretation of the quote can be as follows. The Woman behind the wallpaper gives the title of prisoners not to the narrator’s husband and his sister but to the narrator’s husband and the narrator. The Woman has shown signs of distrusting her authentic self earlier, and in this quotation, she calls out the husband and Jane, not Jennie. It might be that it’s just a variant of saying John’s sister’s name, Jennie. Or it might be that the narrator’s name is finally disclosed at the very end of the story.

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1. IvyPanda. "Quotes Explained." June 29, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/lit/the-yellow-wallpaper/quotes-explained/.


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IvyPanda. "Quotes Explained." June 29, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/lit/the-yellow-wallpaper/quotes-explained/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Quotes Explained." June 29, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/lit/the-yellow-wallpaper/quotes-explained/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Quotes Explained'. 29 June.