What Does Creeping Mean in The Yellow Wallpaper?

A

The process of “creeping” in the short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman symbolizes the struggle of the women. She wants to overcome discrimination and domestic captivity. The word is repetitive in the narration. It adds to the story’s creepy air that unfolds around the woman. She became a victim of a mild type of domestic violence.

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The narrator of the story hallucinates. She sees a woman hiding in wallpaper in her room. It seems to her that the woman is trapped into striped patterns on the wall. The narration ends with the main character tearing down the wallpaper to release the captive. The reader now understands that the imaginary woman is the projection of the narrator herself.

The young mother is not allowed to work. She suffers a lot from her husband and his sister’s restrictions. She has to live up to society’s expectations, be submissive, and do nothing but eat, sleep, and care for the baby. A woman is forced to hide a pen and paper from her family as she is not allowed to write. The choice of words serves to create an atmosphere of her despair.

The word “creep” is twofold here. On the one hand, it delivers the feeling of creepiness to the reader. On the other, it symbolizes the women who have to “creep over” their plans. They have to abandon their feelings and ambitions to satisfy their husbands. In the end, the author lets her character creep over her husband, literally and metaphorically. She breaks free. Published in 1892, the story reveals the burning problem of the society – women imprisoned in their own homes.

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