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The Yellow Wallpaper

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Monica F

on 20 October 2013

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Transcript of The Yellow Wallpaper

...that awaits every person who chooses to submit to society’s expectations of him.
Rising Action
The Yellow Wallpaper
"There are things in that paper that nobody knows but me, or ever will."
Point of View
First Person
Use any reasoning to argue for or against the subject.
Argue For
or Against It
The Yellow Wallpaper
Describes the characters: John, Jennie, Brother,etc
Decribes the setting: the house, nursery, wallpaper
Describes her personality: mentally ill, dependent nature
She has no name which emphasizes that she has no identity
has post partum depression which led to nervous tendencies and schizophrenia
very active imagination
she has suicidal thoughts that are more evident further in the story
paranoid about her relationship with John
physician of high standing
tyrannical male
relationship between John and narrator:narrator believes they are married but he is just her doctor. They sleep in different beds with further proves this.
Throughout the story, the narrator suspects John no longer loves her, their relationship is changing as she is becoming more accepting of her illness
explicitly stated: John's sister but implicitly stated, she is a nurse at the asylum
she is caught looking at the wallpaper
the narrator has to hide her writing from Jennie because she would also be opposed to it
other personality of the narrator
she is obedient and compliant, just like women in that era are expected to be
the woman in the wallpaper represents her independence so they more she sees the woman, the more independent she becomes
Jane switches places with the narrator's other personality at the climax and then starts acting independent and disobedient
explicitly she is the babysitter for the narrator's child
because the narrator is mentally ill and cannot be with her baby, someone must take care of the child
implicitly she is a nurse at the asylum
Old, Dull, Hunted House
“a colonial mansion, a hereditary estate, I would say a haunted house.”
foreshadows the mystical and mysterious event
“out of one window I can see the garden, those mysterious deepshaded arbors, the riotous old-fashioned flowers, and bushes and gnarly trees. Out of another I get the lovely view of the bay.”
contrast between her imprisonment and the distant beautiful taste of nature and freedom outside that she cannot enjoy
“and this great heavy bed which is all we found in the room, looks as if it had been though the wars.”
bedstead is nailed to the floor

symbolic for loyalty in marriage and commitment that traps her and puts restrictions on her
rings and things
no more on that score
symbolic for society’s expectations that is trapping and imprisoning the narrator
“The colour is repellent, almost revolting; a smouldering unclean yellow” then she continues on and states that it’s “a dull yet lurid orange in some places.” She also says that “it is the strangest yellow. It makes me think think of all the yellow things I ever saw—not beautiful ones like buttercups, but old foul, bad yellow things.”
death, decay and sickness
• "And dear John gathered me up in his arms, and just carried me upstairs and laid me on the bed, and sat by me and read to me till it tired my head."
"one of those flamboyant patters committing every artistic sin. It is dull enough to confuse the eye” and she continues on and says that “when you follow the lame uncertain curves for a little distance they suddenly
commit suicide
plunge off at different angles, destroy themselves in unheard of contradictions”.
recurrent spot where pattern lolls like a broken neck and two bulbous eyes stare at you upside down
...perhaps this passage was not intended to describe the patterns in the wallpaper, rather, in reality the narrator was indirectly describing herself
constant negligence and oppression towards women may result in insanity
mental and social suicide
The narrator often had conversations with herself
“Why there’s John at the door! It is no use, young man, you can’t open it! How he does call and pound! Now he’s crying for an axe...”
The narrator saw a woman trapped behind the bars so she gets her freedom through pretending to be the woman in the wallpaper and this drives her crazy.
Perhaps, the author is implying that individuals can go to desperate measures in order to attain their freedom.
Her writing becomes more disordered as the story develops because she is accepting her illness and letting it control her
punctuation is rarely found further on in the story because her thoughts are all fragmented
woman in wallpaper
colour yellow
the scent of the wallpaper
barred window
John does not take her seriously
Begins to grow more anxious/nervous
Takes interest in the wallpaper (nothing/nobody else to interact with as John is constantly away)-loneliness drives her to madness
Loses sleep over its patterns- becomes nocturnal (more time she spends thinking about, it the worse her condition becomes)
She starts creeping and staying up at night
Over come with this obsession to “figure out the pattern”
Finds the pattern behind the pattern (woman in the wallpaper)
She notices the “yellow smell of the room”
Grows suspicious of John and Jennie
The woman is freed from her dependent, compliant and obedient nature
Stands up for herself and refuses to simply obey others
Locks the door to keep people from making her leave
Throws the key away
She would not open the door for John herself
She kills John and rips off the wallpaper to keep her from being trapped
Person vs. Person
Person vs. Society
Expectations of women to be submissive and compliant to the orders of men (John and her brother)
Not allowed to work or partake in any social activities
Must take permission from men before doing anything
Obey orders and are never allowed to have their own opinions or ideas
Resolved by the end (breaks out of the social conventions)
She and John are at odds about how to cure her of her mental illness
At first, she believes John and takes his advice, but as the story progresses, she starts to see that he is only pretending and goes against him
One-sided conflict as she does not really fight his opinions and immediately retracts her own ideas
Resolved in the end (kills John)
Person vs. Self
She is the woman in the wall
Fighting against her own insanity
Woman in the wall is a symbol of her independent nature and fighting spirit that is trapped and locked away because of the expectations of women
Jane, her submissive and obedient nature, keeps her trapped
Resolved in the climax (woman and Jane switch dominant personalities)
“I pulled and she shook, I shook and she pulled”
Jane and the woman in the wall switch places
Now the independent spirit is her dominant personality
Frees herself from the confines of the wall and is able to stand up for herself
“‘I’ve got out at last’, said I, ‘in spite of you and Jane. And I’ve pulled off most of the paper, so you can’t put me back!”
She kills John to ensure that she is never trapped again by the conventions of society, never forced to sit idly and not work
“Now why would that man have fainted? ...I had to creep over him every time”
POV of the Woman (John’s wife)
Unreliable as she is mentally ill
Written as a journal to express her thoughts
Present tense: we see follow her as her condition worsens (progression of insanity)
Allows us to know her thoughts ad feelings towards the different events in the story
Changes Perspective
She believes she is living in an old hereditary estate that has been uninhabited for many years
She is actually living in an asylum
She believes the women are in the windows
Other mentally ill patients
Figures of her own imagination (schizophrenic)
She believes John is her husband and the other man is her brother
May only be her physicians (psychiatrists)
She believes Mary and Jennie are simply her housekeeper and baby sitter
May be her nurses in the asylum
There is no woman in the wall
She is actually another side of her (split personality)
Her independent and free spirited nature is suppressed or ‘trapped’
Switches Point of View
Switches to the woman in the wall
Jane has a split personality
In the first few pages, ‘Jane’ is the speaker (weak, dependent nature)
As the story progresses, her point of view gradually switches to that of the woman in the wall
Finally, at the climax the woman in the wall ‘escapes’ and tells the story from her point of view
More independent side of her
Tears the paper so she never expresses that dependent nature again
Smell of the Wallpaper
She thinks there is a smell that follows her (may not be the reality)
Symbolizes her insanity/condition
At first she does not like the smell, wants to get ridof it
Wants to be cured as fast as possible
Wants to leave the room (cannot stand the wallpaper)
Soon after she says she “gets used to it”
Accepts her strange, erratic behavior
Does not want to leave the nursery
Needs to “figure out the pattern”
key beliefs that dominated the minds of the people at the time which have a great effect on our story.

Women didn’t have the mental capacity like men, therefore, they believed they should not work.

Women were often treated as visual accessories or a man’s background. Thus, the wallpaper served as a reminder of women’s domestic duties to become beautiful visual backgrounds for men.

In the yellow wallpaper,
Gilman demonstrates that constant negligence and oppression towards women may result in their insanity.
This can be seen through:

• John’s character who is a typical tyrannical male.

• Oppression also took form through her being disallowed to work, through her treatment for her nervous depression (the rest-cure), and through her being disallowed to write (affects the element of plot).

• The theme Oppression towards women took form in many symbols and physical locations: Windows, bedstead, wallpaper. These motifs are all symbolic for the narrator’s imprisonment. (affects style and setting)
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