Essays On The Yellow Wallpaper

The first evidence that her unhinged mind has seized on the wallpaper as a creative outlet appears in her perception of a “sub-pattern” masking a skulking, “formless sort of figure.” After a bit more time in the house, she confesses that she spends much of her time alone crying and that the wallpaper “dwells” on her mind.Evidence that her mind is not completely unhinged appears in her judgment that the pattern is not “arranged on any laws of radiation” but this is quickly swept aside by her perception of a point of radiation where the “interminable grotesque” seems to form a focal point.These are the judgments of an artistically sensitive mind judging the paper on its aesthetic merits alone.

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Within in the context of this larger defeat, however, are smaller losses that conspire to occlude her mind.

She suffers a defeat almost immediately upon arriving at the estate when she requests that she and her husband use the small, quaint bedroom on the first floor rather than the expansive upstairs nursery with the yellow wallpaper on the second floor.

The narrator explains why she does all her own “creeping” in the daytime and, toward the end of the story, wonders matter-of-factly if all the creeping women she sees outside the windows all came “out of the wallpaper as I did.” With her mind completely driven to madness she tears down the paper and its pattern as a means to free the woman trapped both inside its sub-pattern and the mind trapped inside the restrictive “rest” cure. In what ways is Narrator defeated at the end of the story?

First, and most obviously, the Narrator of “The Yellow Wallpaper” is defeated because she is driven to madness by the enforced inactivity of the “rest” treatment prescribed by her physician/husband.

Further, she succeeds in her initial desire to remove the wallpaper by literally tearing it from the walls and triumphing over her physician/husband’s refusal to do the same.

Finally, at story’s end, the deterioration of her sanity and the sudden realization that his wife has gone mad causes her physician/husband to faint – an action typically associated with weakness and female frailty during the period.

As the Narrator’s mind continues its steady descent into madness certain clues, recorded in the journal as simple observations reveal the alarming state of her mind.

She states that there are things in the paper that “nobody knows about but me, or ever will.” Further, the moonlight “creeps” into the room at night and reveals the women creeping in the sub-pattern.

Resigned to the upstairs room she asks her husband if they can remove the wallpaper; when he initially accepts she seems to have won a small victory but this is almost immediately taken from her when he changes his mind and concludes that to entertain her “fancy” on this point would open the door to all manner of requests.

His unwillingness to negotiate with his wife means that she will always suffer defeat in her arguments with him because his dominant role as husband will always trump her submissive female perspective. In what ways is the Narrator triumphant at the end of the story?

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