Trapped In the Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Charlotte describes a woman’s life under the control of her husband. The story takes place in the late 1800s in a small town in California. The woman is believed to be mentally ill; her husband does not let her go anywhere. The windows are barred, the door is locked, she is not even allowed to write in a journal. Charlotte grew up in Hartford, Connecticut with her mom and big brother. Charlotte’s father left and abandoned the family during her infancy, leaving them in poverty. As she grew up she became a prominent feminist in America by writing many short stories.
The Yellow Wallpaper focuses on gender roles, and how women had little to know rights in the late 1800s. The way gender roles in supported in the text is how John restricts her from doing anything outside the house. The windows are barred, and she is unable to leave the house. She writes in her journal to find comfort by expressing herself. She is trapped in the mansion that she resides in. The bedroom is her cell, and the house is the prison. Her room is covered in this horrendous yellow wallpaper, and she states that she can see a woman trapped in the wallpaper.
She is fixated on the wallpaper the whole story; she wants to free the woman in the wallpaper, but there is nothing that she can do. “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. ” (35) She believes that there are many women trapped just like the woman in the wallpaper, but not all can escape the pattern. By being trapped, the writer is referring to being controlled by a man. By the end of the story she begins to tear the wallpaper off of the wall to free the woman.
In reality the woman trapped in the wallpaper is her. She is trapped in the house with nowhere to go because of John controlling her. She is hopelessly insane. She states that there are women in the yellow wallpaper pattern staring and creeping on her after the wallpaper was torn off of the wall. She believes that she has also broke out of the wallpaper. John breaks into the locked room and sees all that has happened, he faints in the doorway. In the essay by Paula A. Treichler from University of Illinois, she states that the got so fed up with the wallpaper that she had to tear it off and destroy it.
I disagree with the statement that the woman just got fed up. I believe that the meaning is far more deep than the woman becoming fed up. I believe that the narrator saw that the woman was not only trapped in the wallpaper, but that she was trapped in the oppression of women. I believe this because the narrator was serving under the husband; she was trapped and could not escape his “prison. ” The narrator tore the wallpaper off to free the woman from her prison, just like the narrator wants to be free from her husband’s rule.
Lisa Galullo observes in her essay Gothic and the Female Voice: Examining Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper”, published on University of Yale’s website, that as the narrator begins to have mental breakdowns, the sentences become shorter and disconnected. She also says that to understand the true meaning of the story, the reader has to make many inferences while reading. I strongly agree with Lisa; although there is no where in the story that clearly states that she is going insane because of her husband, you can infer that she is having mental breakdowns from all of the controlling that is taking place.
The writer did a great job by encouraging the reader to read with a critical eye, and for the reader to find the symbols in the story. Lastly, Lisa states that writing the story using indirect symbols creates a more interesting outlook about the situation. By reading about the mental breakdowns that occur, and the destruction that takes place really impacts the reader and makes the reader imagine the reality of what women went through. ‘Reading this short story will open up your mind, and will place you in the shoes of the average woman in the 1800s.
Not many people know what it is like to be controlled so strictly in the way that women were treated back then. Because the author wrote the story in the perspective of the woman, it really impacts the story ten times more. It creates a relationship with the reader and the woman. As the woman writes about her experiences, it will emotionally affect the reader, and will indirectly show the reader how women were treated and what they went through emotionally and physically.