The narrator in “The Yellow Wallpaper” is a young wife and mother who has recently began to suffer symptoms of depression and anxiety. She does not believe that anything is wrong with her but, John, her husband who is a physician, diagnoses her with neurasthenia and prescribes several months of “rest cure. ” She is confined to the nursery in their rented summer home, the narrator is not allowed to write or engage in anything happening out of the house. She secretly writes in her journal and finds discomfort in the hideous wallpaper that covers the walls of the room.
As a result of the narrators "temporary nervous depression" (221), her husband takes her to a secluded estate that is away from the road and the nearest town. In his efforts to help her, he decided that it would be best to keep her locked upstairs in a room that is called a nursery, although it resembles a room for an insane person that was perhaps kept there once before. And although she disagreed with his ideas and believed that "congenial work, with excitement and change, would do her good” (223), there was not much she could say to him directly.
He "assures friends and relatives that there is really nothing wrong" (222) and manipulates the situation by making it seem that she is the one that is control, when really he is the character in the story who is making uncalled for actions. When the narrator talks about the house, she describes it as "the most beautiful place" (222) although she hates her room. She elaborates about the wallpaper, which later becomes another character in the story, perhaps her personality that has been split two ways.
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She describes the wallpaper as "one of those sprawling, flamboyant patterns committing every artistic sin" (225) making it appears unattractive for a beautiful mansion and letting us know that she is rational at this time. She goes on to say that "it is dull enough to confuse the eye," (225) "constantly to irritate and provoke study," implying one could not help to look at it and wonder why would someone have picked such a color or design for a nursery.
Although she would have preferred the room downstairs "that opened into the piazza and had roses all over the window, and such pretty old-fashioned chintz hangings. John would not hear of it,” (224) creating the effect that John is the one making the decisions and she will do as he says. This is indicating that he treats her more like a patient than his wife. We learn that he forbids her to write when she says talks about how writing made her irritated "having to be so sly about it, or else met with heavy opposition”(223), signaling that she hid her writings from her husband.
He laughs at her about the wallpaper, discounts her thoughts of renovating and refuses to make any changes she would like to make to her room, because it would be allowing her to make decisions and according to him she is in no position to make decisions. The narrator has become ill for the main reason of not being able to see her baby. She states "And yet I cannot be with him, it makes me so nervous” (226), representing that she is being kept away from her baby.
She is controlled by John in everything that she does. For example, her diet and the "cod liver oil and lots of tonics and things” she is supposed to take, John also tells her when to sleep, when to exercise and mentally abuses her by convincing her that she is well and that it's all in her mind. John even goes to extremes by humiliating her when he refers to her as a "blessed little goose” and "little girl" (226) as if she were useless to make any decisions on her own.
The woman in the story crosses into insanity when she starts to describe the wallpaper pattern in more human terms, by giving it human characteristics such as committing suicide in some places, "plunge off at outrageous angles, destroying themselves in unheard-of-contradictions,” "broken necks," and "bulbous eyes” (226). She is becoming delusional, because of her husband's imprisonment, when she mentions the "eyes" all over the pattern of wallpaper. How they stare at her without blinking, perhaps she feels this way since she is constantly being watched and controlled by John.
She begins to obsess about the wallpaper more at night because of her lack of sleep. She notices different layers of the wallpaper and labels them "front" and "back" (228) and sees a woman in the sub-pattern, possibly a reference to herself and how she's feeling at this time. She decides that the front pattern is the one that moves because "the woman behind shakes it" as if it were her shaking the bars on her window in her room to be able to get out of her husband's prison.
She is now thinking of suicide in order to escape her husband and his dominance over her. The narrator in this story is very descriptive of everything she comes in contact with. She see things differently then other people might see things. She saw the women in the wallpaper and figured that she might have something to do with her life and that all the women are trapped inside of the wallpaper, trying to get out. She smells the “peculiar odor” found in the house. She “spent hours in trying got analyze it” (226).
She is observant of everything that is in the room. The narrator begins to think there may be some hope that she can gain some control, but it is pointed out "she herself is a mystery: to her husband and to herself" (229). John thinks of her as a mystery that he is unable to solve. So instead of confessing this inability, he hides his wife in the room. He thinks he is solving the mystery but in reality he is giving his wife a chance to solve it on her own. She does so by beginning to take control of her own life and refusing to be a "little goose" any longer.
These feelings of freedom build when she tears all the yellow wallpaper off the walls. She is sure that John will have something to say about this, but she is not bothered. She wants control of something even if it is the "odious wallpaper. " That was just the first step. Her life is now in her own hands. It is no longer in the hands of a male. She has locked the door to the room and grown mentally as a woman. Her final and ultimate feeling of control comes when John finds out what she has done. She no longer worries about what John thinks and is not deterred by his fainting.
She is on a mission to get all the wallpaper off the walls, and she will stop at nothing to accomplish this. She has come to a point where she has had enough and takes matters into her own hands. She is determined to pursue everything that she is thinking. The husband and the wallpaper are similar, both the husband and the paper dominate the narrator. But in the end John no longer directs her every move. John no longer inhibits her inner thoughts. And the wallpaper no longer oppresses her. As time goes on, she gains confidence and control over both and ultimately dominates them.
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The Yellow Wallpaper Argumentative Essay. (2017, Mar 28). Retrieved from https://phdessay.com/the-yellow-wallpaper-2-208772/