In The Yellow Wallpaper, How Does the Changing Description of the Wallpaper Reflect the Narrator’s Changing Character?

A

The wallpaper is a screen onto which the narrator projects her fears. The wallpaper’s pattern provokes anxiety of invisible supervision and control. Her state goes from disquiet to obsessive anxiety and madness. At the same time, we see that the way she sees the wallpaper changes as well. In the end, we witness an act of rebellion and aggression.

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Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s novel proves how harmful restriction and suppression are for a woman. The narrator is kept in a room without her will by her husband. The key element is the woman’s plan to tear the wallpaper off.

The woman begins to spot a vague shapeless female shadow. It looks mysterious and provocative for her and becomes clearer every day. She sees a woman “stooping down and creeping about behind that pattern.” Over time, she discovers that the image on the wallpaper changes quickly in different lighting. At night the external pattern “becomes bars!” When she reveals it, the character’s attitude to the room changes. From a passive prisoner, the narrator becomes an active researcher.

In the daytime, this woman is calm and quiet. But with the onset of the night, she begins to “shake violently” the bars and try to free herself. The narrator thinks that there are many women behind bars. They all crawl on the wallpaper. She links “crawling” with a protest against the abuse of women. Their mental and physical freedom is limited by society. The wallpaper pattern boosts the room’s earlier association with prison. In the end, the narrator tears the wallpaper off the walls. She proclaims freedom from control and the liberation of the mind.

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Academic.Tips. "In The Yellow Wallpaper, How Does the Changing Description of the Wallpaper Reflect the Narrator’s Changing Character?" June 3, 2021. https://academic.tips/question/in-the-yellow-wallpaper-how-does-the-changing-description-of-the-wallpaper-reflect-the-narrators-changing-character/.

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"In The Yellow Wallpaper, How Does the Changing Description of the Wallpaper Reflect the Narrator’s Changing Character?" Academic.Tips, 3 June 2021, academic.tips/question/in-the-yellow-wallpaper-how-does-the-changing-description-of-the-wallpaper-reflect-the-narrators-changing-character/.

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