The Yellow Wallpaper The Yellow Wallpaper The book “The Yellow Wallpaper” is a hyperbolic account of private life experiences of Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Shortly after giving birth to her daughter in 1887, depression and fatigue riddled Gilman’s life. Gilman was referred to a 19th century women’s disorder specialist, Silas Weir Witchel, who diagnosed her with neurasthenia thereby prescribing “rest cure” for her. The nervous disease, for which the narrator was a prey, was common among women in the nineteenth century. The narrator and her husband, John, rent a wonderful house to spend their summer.
Unfortunately, the narrator is quite uncomfortable with the room. The narrator hallucinates that there is a woman trapped in the wallpaper in the room and tears down the wallpaper in a bid to free the woman. After reaping the wallpaper apart, the narrator feels liberated. The wallpaper thus symbolizes imprisonment of the female gender within domestic orb. By tearing the wallpaper, the narrator reclaims her identity and feels liberated. Several themes emerge from the narrator’s story. The major themes in the book are the domestic sphere as women’s prison, the role of women in the society during the nineteenth century, the rest therapy, creativity against rationality, and the sun versus the moonlight, which denotes John’s tight work schedule. There are numerous terminologies used such as arabesque, which means an intricate motif or spiraling line, arbor, meaning a latticework haven tangled using vines and leaves, and Chintz, meaning a cotton fabric that is printed among many others.
Some important questions to ask are: how does the narrator relate with the wallpaper in the story? What is gender role in the 19th century?
The story portrays female gender role as domestic. They were expected to take care of the homes and family while males are the breadwinners of their family and seek work to sustain their families. A doctor’s capability of knowing what one was suffering from heavily depended on his observation of change in behavior of the victim.