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Deep Symbolism in "The Yellow Wallpaper"

In: English and Literature

Submitted By Pha6ma
Words 677
Pages 3
"The Yellow Wallpaper" is a short story written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, centering on the mental deterioration of a young woman. The story is set in the 1980s in an old mansion that the narrator’s husband has rented for her to cure from her “nervous condition”. The narrator spends most of her time in the attic room with the hideous yellow wallpaper. The author uses a lot of symbolic devices to create the effect pf the oppression of women by the society.

The yellow wallpaper is the biggest and most obvious symbol in the story. It represents the narrator’s mind and reflects her thoughts and desires. Accordingly, the wallpaper develops its symbolism throughout the story. At first it seems merely unpleasant: it is ripped, soiled, and an “unclean yellow.” The worst part is the formless pattern, which fascinates the narrator as she attempts to figure out how it is organized. After staring at the paper for hours, she sees a ghostly sub-pattern behind the main pattern, visible only in certain light. Eventually, the sub-pattern comes into focus as a desperate woman, and sometimes many women, constantly crawling and stooping, looking for an escape from behind the main pattern, which has come to resemble the bars of a cage: “Sometimes I think there are a great many women behind, and sometimes only one, and she crawls around fast, and her crawling shakes it all over”. Clearly, the wallpaper represents the tradition and the domestic life in which the narrator finds herself trapped. The wallpaper stimulates the narrator’s thoughts and makes her understand herself gradually, which drives her to insanity and then she loses herself and her mind, when her writing make no sense anymore. The narrator tears up the wallpaper at the end, which shows that she finally got rid of her restrains: “I’ve got out at last,” said I, “in spite of you and Jane. And I’ve pulled off most of the...

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