Yellow Wallpaper Close Reading
The Yellow Wallpaper Close Reading
The narrator of The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman discovers that the woman trapped in the yellow wallpaper is really herself and reflects that there are countless other women trapped and oppressed by society just as she is. Through her descent into madness, the narrator is able to finally free herself, but not without losing her sanity in the process. When the narrator states: “I pulled and she shook, I shook and she pulled” (Gilman 517), this goes to demonstrate that the woman in the wall that she’s been trying to free is really herself. The woman trapped in the wallpaper is a significant metaphor to represent that the narrator is trapped in an oppressive society, and more specifically
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Up to this point the narrator has been unnamed, to demonstrate that the situation is not unique to her, but applies to many similar suffering women. However, the fact that she finally names herself, and in third person, signifies that she finally detaches from her former, proper self, and allows herself to be free in her own mind, imagination, and creativity. Jane was also a very common name at that time, representing how the narrator broke free from the norms of what women were expected to be. One final way in which the narrator triumphed is in the irony in the fact that John fainted at the end of the story. Fainting is general considered a feminine display of weakness, which allowed for somewhat of a gender switch between the narrator and John (Wayne). The narrator assumed the dominant role in the relationship, as she “had to creep over him every time!” (Gilman 518). This places a repeated emphasis on the narrators’ final liberation and declares her superiority over and over again (Wayne). In this way, the narrator was able to set herself free, although it was at the cost of her sanity.
Wayne, Teddy. "The Yellow Wallpaper Summary and Analysis." The Yellow Wallpaper Study Guide. GradeSaver, 30 Nov. 2008. Web. 14 Oct. 2012.