The Yellow Wallpaper consists of 11 entries from a secret journal of a young woman. Suffering from postpartum depression, she is prescribed a “rest cure.” This means that she has to avoid any physical and mental activities, even writing. Having nothing to do, the narrator fixates on an ugly yellow wallpaper in her room that eventually drives her crazy.
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🖼️ The Yellow Wallpaper: Short Summary with Pictures
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The narrator and her husband rent a solitary mansion to spend a summer there. The former suffers from postpartum depression. Writing makes her feel better. That is why she keeps a diary. Her husband, John, is also her physician. He doesn’t believe she is seriously ill.
Two weeks have passed since the first entry. The narrator is prescribed a “rest cure.” She has to hide her diary from John and Jennie – John’s sister – and is not allowed to play with her baby. The narrator starts to dwell on the ugly yellow wallpaper in her room.
The narrator’s relatives visited John and her to celebrate the Fourth of July, leaving her exhausted. As she becomes obsessed with the wallpaper, its subpattern starts to resemble a woman trying to escape the cage. The narrator gets closer to a mental breakdown.
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Entries 4 – 5
The woman feels more depressed than ever. She doesn’t sleep at night anymore – just lies in her bed observing the woman behind the wallpaper’s pattern. She tries to persuade John to leave the house, but he doesn’t listen to her and ignores her suffering.
Entries 6 – 7
The diary entries are becoming shorter. The narrator says that she has become much better now, but her mental illness is obviously progressing. She becomes completely fixated on the wallpaper now – she even feels its smell in the house and outdoors.
Entries 8 – 9
The narrator sees that the woman behind the wallpaper’s pattern has managed to get out. She secretly creeps around the house and the garden. The narrator says that she doesn’t blame the woman for not wanting to be caught: she also creeps only when alone.
Entries 10 – 11
The narrator now identifies herself with her hallucination. Wanting to help the woman get out, she tears the wallpaper off the wall. Then she locks herself in the room, throws the key out of the window, and creeps around. When John breaks in, he faints in the doorway.