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Symbolism In “The Yellow Wallpaper”

1166 words - 5 pages

The color yellow has many different meanings. It can bring hope and happiness but it can also bring cowardice and deceit. The shade of yellow tells the whole story. Bright, beautiful shades usually denote cheerfulness or joy but it can also have a hint of danger. Dull, dingy shades usually denote caution, decay, sickness, and jealousy. The dull and dingy yellow sets the scene for this dramatic story. The story “The Yellow Wallpaper,” written by 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 ...view middle of the document...

The story begins with John and his wife moving into an estate for the summer so that she can get over her sickness. However, she finds the house to be more of a haunted mansion than a home away from home. The woman had just had a baby but it is only mentioned a few times at the beginning of the story. This big event in her life has contributed much to her mental state and her depression but her husband is the cause of more. He doesn’t listen to her nor does he believe she is truly sick. He treats her as a doctor would treat a patient not how a husband treats a wife. His actions towards her speed up her descent into paranoia and mental insanity as they stay at this house. He talks down to her as if she is a child: “Then he took me in his arms and called me a blessed little goose, and said he would go down to cellar, if I wished?” (515). The fact that he speaks to her as if she is a child and not a grown woman capable of making her own choices shows how women were depicted in those times as well as how he looked at her. When he talks to her like an infant it causes her to believe that he is superior to her which gives her guilt for wanting a different room. This ultimately leads to her imprisonment in the room with the yellow wallpaper. Her mental state is further worn down as time passes as the yellow wallpaper begins to bother her, which is a key turning point in the story. She is mentally trapped in this room because as the wallpaper begins to bother her more and more she begins to see someone in it. She sees a woman; she sees herself. As her mental state worsens, she projects her feelings onto the lurid wallpaper until finally at her worst mental state, she sees a woman trapped behind bars. They, the narrator and the woman in the wallpaper, pace as an animal would in a cage that is unfamiliar. This occurs until she decides to free the woman and begins to rip down the wallpaper: “That was clever, for really I wasn't alone a bit! As soon as it was moonlight and that poor thing began to crawl and shake the pattern, I got up and ran...

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