“Creeping” in the story by Charlotte P. Gilman symbolizes the struggle of women to overcome domestic captivity. The word appears in the text many times. It adds to the story’s creepy air that unfolds around a woman who became a domestic violence victim.
The narrator of the story hallucinates, seeing a woman hiding behind the wallpaper in her room. It seems to her that the woman is trapped in the striped patterns on the wall. The narration ends when the main character tears down the wallpaper to release the captive. The reader now understands that the imaginary woman is the personification of the narrator.
The young mother is not allowed to work. She suffers a lot from her husband and his sister’s restrictions. She has to live up to society’s expectations and be submissive. The woman does nothing but eat and sleep. She hides a pen and papers from her family because she is not allowed to write. The choice of words serves to create an atmosphere of her despair.
The word “creep” is twofold here. On the one hand, it gives the feeling of creepiness to the reader. On the other, it symbolizes the women who have to “creep over” their plans, feelings, and ambitions to satisfy their husbands. In the end, the author lets her character creep over her husband, literally and metaphorically, and break free. The story reveals the burning problem of society – women imprisoned in their own homes.