The Yellow Wallpaper: Painful Reflections of a Captive, Depressed Woman
The Yellow Wallpaper may seem somewhat clumsy at the first reading but hits hard at social conventions. The richness of the narrative lies in the depth at which it touches the issue of oppression of the females. Through the trauma of a woman, who notes it all down in her secret journal, the author has highlighted the captivity of the millions like her. The craft of Gilman lies in her adept portrayal of the woman’s agony which has crossed its limit. The loss of liberty and independent identity makes the narrator try to find solace in her journal. This journal is her secret companion through which readers get to view her inner thoughts and analyze her mental condition.
The woman in the story is deeply angry and frustrated at herself and the limited life she is leading. Her anger and frustration keep growing within, making her sicker unable to find a way out of her small unchanging world. Gilman has highlighted the social injustice which the women are subjected to. She even points out through the story that the problem was rampant across all classes. The narrator belongs to the upper middle class. Gilman presents the women as a distinct class trying to fight for their identity. The woman in the story grows more and more disconsolate every-day and starts seeing patterns appear in the wallpaper. Its color teases her making her lose her spirit. Gilman’s story has a revolting subject matter, one picked by several others but few have been able to deal with as honestly and as powerfully. With each changing leaf in the narrator’s journal her condition is more critical. She would not be able to find a way out of the barriers around her as they are inherent to every woman’s role in the human society.
At the end when he realizes the horror of the situation, he faints in the doorway and the narrator has to creep all over him. However, at this point in the story the author also demonstrates her hopelessness regarding the status of women. Men will always remain unable to understand the condition of the women and for women there is no option until they at last are completely broken and lost. The narrator madly tears down the yellow wallpaper to release the women caught behind it. her husband comes to check and faints in the doorway, still unable to feel the disgust in his wife’s heart.
Suggested Reading: George Orwell’s A Hanging – Summary and Analysis.