This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Symbolism In 'the Yellow Wallpaper'

1222 words - 5 pages

For centuries women in literature have been depicted as weak, subservient, and unthinking characters. Before the 19th century, they usually were not given interesting personalities and were always the proper, perfect and supportive character to the main manly characters. However, one person, in order to defy and mock the norm of woman characterization and the demeaning mindsets about women, Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote "The Yellow Wallpaper." This story, through well crafted symbolisms, brought to surface the troubles that real women face. Her character deals with the feeling of being trapped by the expectations of her husband, with the need to do something creative or constructive, and to have a mind and will of her own. These feelings are represented through various symbols in the story which include the wallpaper, the woman in the wallpaper, the mental sickness that progressed throughout the story, male presence/influence, moonlight/daylight, and the crazy pattern on the wallpaper.

The wallpaper in Gilman's story represents the unnamed narrator's repressed and trapped self. The side that is not liberated by insanity. It represents everything that she detests about her life; not being allowed to write, having to be a mother, and needing to be someone who John expects her to be. In this way, her immediate hatred of the wallpaper is fitting. The old saying that says a person always hates others for the things they hate about themselves applies to her hatred of the wallpaper. The yellowness of the wallpaper reminds her of her sickness because yellow is the color of jaundice and generally symbolizes inferiority, strangeness, cowardice, ugliness, and backwardness. Therefore, because she sees these things in herself, she hates the wallpaper.

As her mind continues to get sicker, or freer as some people might say, the narrator begins to see a creeping woman moving underneath the wallpaper which she so vehemently loathes. The two are alike in the fact that they are the only two characters in the story who are unnamed. This woman embodies the narrator and her feeling of being trapped under all of the things that the wallpaper represents. She also symbolizes a person who the narrator would like to be. This creeping woman does what she wants- she creeps around the room, in the moonlight, freely. She has no husband, or if she does, she is defying him by skulking around the room alone at night. I think that the narrator's mind realizes this significance because it eventually takes on the creeping woman's identity in the end.

The actual state of the narrator's sickness throughout the story is also symbolic of the narrator and more generally, women breaking free from society's stereotypes and expectations. Although she may only be breaking free through hallucinations and craziness, it is important because she is making a stand against the norms and expectations put upon her. Her insanity, for Gilman, represents feminist anger at society's rules...

Find Another Essay On Symbolism in 'The Yellow Wallpaper'

Symbolism in The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

1189 words - 5 pages Symbolism in The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman      Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper" is the journal of a woman plagued with severe depression and the inability to recover due to her role as a submissive woman. At the time of publication, "The Yellow Wallpaper" was seen as a story merely about the perils of insanity. Even Gilman was proud to say it provided a wake-up call for the medical field and the families

Symbols and Symbolism in The Yellow Wallpaper and A Rose for Emily

967 words - 4 pages Symbolism in The Yellow Wallpaper and A Rose for Emily      William Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily" and Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper" hold numerous similarities. Both stories show the influences of society and the slow decay on a particular woman. The title of each piece becomes important to the plot and ultimate outcome. In several ways, each title takes shape to portray symbolism in one sense or another. The references

Symbolism in Yann Martel’s Life of Pi and Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story The Yellow Wallpaper

1634 words - 7 pages reader hope that Pi will survive his strenuous endeavor at sea. In contrast, colors do not always bring positive emotions into a story; Charlotte Perkins Gilman taints her story a fading yellow hue in her short story The Yellow Wallpaper. Her use of the color yellow attributes to the idea of the sickening and deteriorating mind of the protagonist in comparison the the fading and aging yellow wallpaper along the walls of her bedroom. Within the

The Yellow Wallpaper and the Feminine Struggle: An analysis of symbolism of the Wallpaper

1751 words - 7 pages The Yellow Wallpaper was written in 1892 by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. It was written as a protest for the "rest cure' prescribed to women suffering from mental aliments such as hysteria and post-partum depression during her the nineteenth century. This work of literature is seeping with symbolism that is used as a way for the author to convey to others the poor treatment of women by the masculine society of the time.The Yellow Wallpaper is a

ine symbolism. Discuss its use to develop character and/or theme in "Where are you going,Where have you been?" and "The Yellow Wallpaper."

899 words - 4 pages herself. It is here that she is seeing herself for the first time.The biggest example of symbolism in "The Yellow Wallpaper" is found within its title: The Yellow Wallpaper. The wallpaper itself is a representation of the protagonist's mind frame during the story. At first, it is a representation of how she feels about being at the house; she does not care for it, neither the wallpaper nor being in the house itself. However, it slowly becomes

Conflict in The Yellow Wallpaper

1381 words - 6 pages The first person point of the view the author artfully uses and the symbolism present with the wallpaper cleverly depicts the inner conflict of the narrator, losing her own sanity due to the constraints of her current life. However, while it seems that the narrator in “ The Yellow Wallpaper” succumbed to her own insanity, the endless conflict within herself and her downward spiral to insanity is seen through a different light, as an inevitable

Caught in the Yellow Wallpaper

1075 words - 4 pages Caught in the Yellow Wallpaper        "The pattern is torturing. You think you have mastered it, but just as you get well underway in following, it turns a back-somersault and there you are. It slaps you in the face, knocks you down, and tramples upon you."   As her madness progresses the narrator in The Yellow Wallpaper becomes increasingly aware of a woman present in the pattern of the wallpaper. She sees this woman struggling

Feminism in "The Yellow Wallpaper"

866 words - 3 pages but she knows that it is not. She eats almost nothing all day and when it is suppertime she eats a normal meal. John sees this and proclaims her appetite is improving. Later in the story, the woman creates something of an imaginary friend trapped behind the horrible looking yellow wallpaper in the room, which her and john sleep. She watches this woman and in the end tries to free her by tearing down all the nasty looking wallpaper. I

Insanity in The Yellow wallpaper

1404 words - 6 pages It is often said that artists and writers are touched by a bit of madness, however it could also be said that madness comes from a lack of creativity. The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman tells the story of a woman who is diagnosed with depression and I prescribed with the rest cure. After being left in solitude for a few weeks the narrator starts to go insane and takes her aggression out on the ugly

Feminism in "The Yellow Wallpaper"

844 words - 4 pages “The Yellow Wallpaper”, like many stories, has an underlying message that seems to be hidden between the lines. If you sit down and read this story once, you might see a bit of male domination of John over the narrator, but if you read it a second time and think deeper you see the true feminist theme. Gillman truly showed her feminist ways throughout this story, although it’s a short story and contains a lot of powerful messages in it. The first

The Psychological Portrait in The Yellow Wallpaper

1481 words - 6 pages The Psychological Portrait in The Yellow Wallpaper    Charlotte Perkins Gilman was famous in her time as a women's activist. Later, she began writing fiction. As noted in her Norton Anthology biography, Charlotte's stories often reveal her worldview. The Yellow Wallpaper is a short story written to combat the modus operandi for curing depression in her day. This cure consisted of being completely sequestered from any intellectual or

Similar Essays

Symbolism In “The Yellow Wallpaper”

1166 words - 5 pages Charlotte Perkins Gilman, has many symbolic undertones throughout the story but none as great as the yellow wallpaper being a symbol for the main character’s sanity as well as her entrapment both physically and mentally. John physically traps her in this room by his actions of making her feel like a small insignificant child: “It is as airy and comfortable a room as anyone need wish, and, of course, I would not be so silly as to make him

Symbolism And Repression In The Yellow Wallpaper

2072 words - 8 pages Symbolism and Repression in The Yellow Wallpaper        Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s story, “The Yellow Wallpaper” is as a wonderful example of the gothic horror genre. It was not until the rediscovery of the story in the early 1970’s that “The Yellow Wallpaper” was recognized as a feminist indictment of a male dominated society. The story contains many typical gothic trappings, but beneath the conventional façade hides a tale of repression

Symbolism Of "The Yellow Wallpaper

2249 words - 9 pages accomplishes this in many ways, but there are three main ways that she conveys this: by the common treatment of women in the history of the Victorian era, by the use of symbolism throughout the story, and by using a sense of parallelism between the woman trapped in the wallpaper and the main character.At the very start of the story, feminism can be observed and taken as the main driving purpose in the story. Gilman wrote "The Yellow Wallpaper" in a

Setting, Symbolism And Oppression Of Women In The Yellow Wallpaper

789 words - 3 pages The Yellow Wallpaper: Setting, Symbolism and Oppression of Women Have you ever been locked in a dark closet? You grope about trying to feel the doorknob, straining to see a thin beam of light coming from underneath the door. As the darkness consumes you, you feel as if you will suffocate. There is a sensation of helplessness and hopelessness. Loneliness, caused by oppression, is like the same darkness that overtakes its victim. Charlotte