Meanings Behind The Yellow Wallpaper
Author Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s skillful work illustrated in the short story The Yellow Wallpaper prompts readers to derive various opinions of the story’s overall meaning. What originally began as a simple tale involving a sad woman in a disturbing state of mind quickly turned the corner into something much deeper. Released during an era where women often were labeled as emotionally unstable and incapable of success, work, and free-thinking, Gilman’s story, based on personal circumstances, helped paint a picture for readers at that time to stay strong and avoid such an irrational state of craziness.
The concept of subordination in relationships was also addressed, since women during this time were considered the weaker sex, destined to live solely through submissiveness to men. Interestingly enough, the narrator early in the story expressed a realization that the room surely belonged to a child, or perhaps, a person on the verge of insanity due to circumstances (Sparknotes, n.d.).
It’s assumed the wallpaper itself was the main culprit for enabling an already unstable mind. The color of the wallpaper plays a significant role, as mentioned in the story as a color “repellant, almost revolting; a smoldering unclean yellow, strangely faded by the slow turning sun.” The color itself reflects the ugly, disturbing reality of the narrator’s situation. This wallpaper fascination slowly turned the narrator mad as a woman’s figure was seen behind the pattern, as if trying to escape and be set free (Sant, n.d.).
Whatever the true meaning may be, The Yellow Wallpaper‘s main significance is captured when the narrator associates this state of insanity and helplessness to her own life, along with other women, unable to break-free of society’s expectations. Furthermore, the tearing down of the wallpaper signifies the narrator’s determination to stay strong and be rid of such behaviors within the community (Sant, n.d.).
Sant, L. (n.d). The Yellow Wall-Paper: A Twist on Conventional Symbols. Retrieved from http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/composition/liselle.htm
Sparknotes. (n.d). The Yellow Wallpaper: Themes, Motifs, and Symbols. Retrieved from http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/yellowwallpaper/themes.html