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Character Analysis: The Yellow Wallpaper

The narrator in, “The Yellow Wallpaper,” suffers from depression, although her husband, who is a doctor, does not consider it an illness. Therefore, he keeps her on a strict rest cure. She is not allowed to do work of any form, not even care for her baby. All she allowed to do is rest in her room and breath in the air as prescribed by her husband. Because she spends most of her time in her room, she becomes obsessed with the yellow wallpaper in the room and it drives her to insanity.

The lack of creative stimulation and relationships with others causes the narrator’s obsession with the yellow wallpaper which leads her to believe she is trapped behind bars in this yellow wallpaper. John, the narrator’s husband, believes the narrator does not have an illness. He claims her nervous depression is temporary and can be cured with rest and air. The narrator’s brother, also a doctor, agrees with John. Because they are both exceptionally respectable doctors, the narrator feels she has to listen to them. She believes they desire what is best for her.

The narrator states, “Personally, I believe that congenial work, with excitement and change, would do me good. But what is one to do? ” The narrator stays complacent to their theory of the rest cure even though she doesn’t agree. The beautiful house has been empty for years. The narrator enjoys everything regarding the house except for the yellow wallpaper in the room her husband chose for them to stay in. John chose the room since it has windows all around which makes it airy. John’s prescription to cure the narrator’s nervous depression is rest and air.

Although the room is airy, this room also has features that begin to give the narrator that feeling of being trapped. The windows have bars just as if she was in jail. Also, the gate at the stairs to prevent children from falling down gives a feeling of confinement. As well as, the bed that is so heavy the narrator feels as though it is nailed down. All of these are symbols of confinement. A confinement that leads the narrator to eventually perceive herself in the yellow wallpaper. The more time the narrator spends in her room she begins to be become used to it.

Subsequently, she becomes used to all of the room’s features except for the wallpaper. The other symbols of confinement do not bother her as much as the wallpaper. At first just the ugly pattern and order of the wallpaper bothers her, however as time passes, she begins to believe the wallpaper has eyes that stare at her. This leads her to admit, “This paper looks to me as if it knew what a vicious influence it had! ” The wallpaper begins to influence her mental state for the reason that she has no other mental stimulation.

Without other stimulation from others or work, the wallpaper remains all the narrator focuses on and it begins to push her to insanity. The entire time the narrator longs for companionship and the ability to write. She looks forward to a visit from her Cousin Henry and Julia although John does not allow it given that they would cause the narrator too much stimulation which, he claims, will not do her good. The narrator would like to come to be well faster in order to visit with them, however she knows she is not allowed to visit them now. Instead, her focus remains in the room primarily on the wallpaper.

Then she begins to notice a figure in the wallpaper. Another sign that she is moving toward insanity due to the lack of mental stimulation. After a brief visit from family, for the Fourth of July, the narrator is left alone most of the time as John stays mostly away for work. She admits to becoming a bit fond of the wallpaper. She states regarding the wallpaper, “It dwells in my mind so! ” The narrator admits she is obsessed with the wallpaper since she has nothing else to contemplate or concentrate on. The narrator’s mental and physical states begin to decline. She longs for company and again asks John if she could visit with her cousin.

John opposes and the narrator does not have enough strength to defend herself. John then carries the narrator to her room. There she realizes that if she had not occupied that room, her baby, who is overall in good health and state, would have occupied it with the horrid wallpaper. She comforts herself in having saved the baby from being in that room. She doesn’t talk to no one concerning the wallpaper no longer, nevertheless it continues to be her principal focus. She begins to observe “a woman stooping down and creeping around behind that pattern. ” The narrator realizes the wallpaper affects her mind.

She asks John to take her away, but he convinces her only a few weeks remain on their lease and she is improving. The narrator has no choice then to be complacent to her husband and stay at the house. All the time her focus continued on the wallpaper. The narrator begins to create a positive side to the wallpaper. The further she focuses on it, the more obsessed she becomes. She begins to observe how it varies in different light and notices a sub pattern within the wallpaper. This she perceives as a positive side to the wallpaper. All of this stimulates her mind and she even becomes excited about life because of the wallpaper.

As she continues to study the wallpaper, she notices that the woman in the wallpaper is behind bars and shakes the bars powerfully. Since she only focuses that wallpaper, she begins to put herself in the place of that woman she claims to observe. Had she been taken away from that house or given other activities, she would not have continued with the delusion that she is in the wallpaper. Locking herself in the room, the narrator begins tearing down the wallpaper. After she tore down as much as she could, she begins to creep around the room just as she believed the woman in the wallpaper did.

At this point she envisions herself as that confined and lonely woman who was trapped in the wallpaper. Only the narrator’s confinement was in the room by her husband. She states she is out and now that she has removed the wallpaper no one can put her back. She feels a sense of freedom in having taken down the wallpaper, however she cannot stop creeping around the room, even after her husband faints and lays in her path. She just creeps over him and proceeds creeping around the room. The narrator’s confinement to her room and lack of mental stimulation caused her to become mentally insane

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