“There comes John’s sister. Such a expensive girl as she is, and so careful of me! I must no longer let her find me writing. She is a perfect and enthusiastic housekeeper, and hopes for no better profession. I verily accept as true with she thinks it is the writing which made me sick!”.
The Yellow Wallpaper
Gilman’s story The Yellow Wallpaper explores the ordeal of a woman during treatment for fearful disorder. The persona explains how hopeless and lonely she feels in her room where there is a yellow wallpaper. The wallpaper can be said to a symbol of imprisonment as the narrator is no longer allowed to do any intellectual work including reading and writing and cannot even be allowed to change her room despite requesting her husband. According to the Narrator, her husband’s authority is supreme and cannot be challenged.
Jennie, another character in the story is a representation of the role of women and how it was restricted in the 19th and 20th century. She is John’s sister who is always busy with kitchen duties and monitoring of the narrator. Jennie takes her brother’s orders without questioning their relevance. She does not allow the narrator to write despite the fact that no indication writing will make the situation worse. Jennie represents women of this period as they were tasked with house duties and were expected to obey men without question. It is due to this reason that the Jennie and the narrator are supposed to obey John. The narrator is hopeful of personal freedom while Jennie does not see anything wrong with the kind of life she is living.
In which way does the description of wallpaper change over time? How does the wallpaper represent the domestic sphere?
Does the destruction of the yellow wallpaper liberate the narrator?
Fasano, Thomas, editor. Great Short Stories by Great American Writers: The Yellow Wallpaper. Coyote Canyon Press, 2011.